There wasn’t much gold in the forecast for the red and gold of the San Francisco 49ers at the end of the 2015 season. Hosting last year’s Super Bowl was the closest this team was going to get to a Lombardi Trophy unless serious changes were made. Luckily they hired a man whose middle name is “serious changes.” Of course, he’s better known as…
CHIP KELLY: FOOTBALL GENIUS!
In episode no. 1, our hero deftly solved his QB conundrum. What riddles will his ingenuity crack this week? There’s only one way to find out.
1:12 p.m. August 5, 2016.
“Dammit Patton! You’re out of position again,” screamed Chip. “When I hold up the ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage picture, that means we’re running a power sweep to the left.”
It was no use. After weeks of OTAs, mini camps, and training camp, the 49ers still couldn’t grasp Chip’s genius offense. The goal was simple enough: the faster they could get set for a new play, the more genius plays they could run in a given game. But Chip was finding it very difficult to get 11 players set up at the line of scrimmage quickly enough to give his team a competitive advantage.
“Maybe we should just let the offense huddle up for today,” defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil whispered in Kelly’s ear. “My guys aren’t getting a very good workout.”
Chip turned to him, confused at who had the nerve to tell him how to do things. “Who are you? Reporters aren’t allowed on the sidelines!”
Needless to say, Chip didn’t spend much time focusing on defense.
Then, just as the hurry-up offense was about to bungle another drive, Chip had yet another brilliant idea. It was his fourth or fifth of the day; keeping track of his genius was a full-time job itself, and Chip already had one of those.
“Patton, get over here! On the sidelines!” he shouted to his terrible wide receiver. “You stay put too,” he added, stopping Bruce Ellington in his tracks, who for some reason thought he was worthy of entering the field of play.
Sure enough, with just ten men on the field, the offense was able to get to the line of scrimmage quicker, getting plays off a whole second faster than before.
After six impressively quick incomplete passes and three more runs for no gain, O’Neil once again came over to Kelly.
“You know you don’t have enough players on the field, right?” said the defensive coordinator.
“Hold all questions until my after-practice press conference,” said Chip.
Innovation was always being questioned. Besides, there was no rule saying he had to play with 11 men. In fact there was no rule saying he had to play with ten men. Or nine. Or eight…
4:22 p.m. August 14, 2016.
Preseason Week 1: Houston vs. San Francisco
“Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for,” said CBS announcer Jim Nantz. “Here’s our first peek at the 49ers offense under head coach Chip Kelly. Former tenth-overall pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Blaine Gabbert, starts the game at quarterback. At center, Daniel Kilgore will anchor the offensive line, and … that’s everybody. San Francisco is starting just two players on offense.”
“We talked all week about what an innovator Chip Kelly is on offense, this is an example of that right here,” said Phil Simms.
“1st and 10. And Gabbert is tackled immediately for no gain,” called Nantz on the first play from scrimmage. “But the Niners offense is getting right back to the line. 2nd and 10. And Gabbert is tackled again for a two-yard loss. Once again, San Francisco gets right back to the line of scrimmage. Facing a third and 12; and it’s another sack for Watt! Four-yard loss on the play.”
“But look at how fast they’re getting these plays off,” countered Simms. “They’re set before the refs even blow the play in. I tell you, if you can keep getting plays off that quickly and don’t allow the defense to make substitutions, they will tire out quickly.”
And so the 49ers continued their relentless pace on offense throughout the entire game. It was truly a masterpiece in up-tempo offense: San Francisco averaged just seven seconds between each play. In total, they ran 91 offensive plays in just 10:37. No one had ever seen an offense work so quickly!
Sure, they had -118 yards on the day, 26 three-and-outs, five turnovers, two failed fourth downs, three injured quarterbacks, and ultimately lost the game 98-0. But it was still a victory for innovation!
“We’ve talked about what an innovator Chip Kelly is, but he has to be disappointed by tonight’s showing,” said Simms in the post game wrap-up. “For such an incredible offensive mind to be hindered by such a poor performance from his defense, I wouldn’t be surprised if this costs Jim O’Neil his job.”
“I’m getting word that it already has. The 49ers will reportedly hold a press conference tomorrow to make the announcement,” said Nantz.
“And I think that’s the right call,” added Simms. “Chip Kelly is trying to change the culture here, and it didn’t look like O’Neil was buying into it.”
“Well after tonight, Kelly has certainly changed how offense will be played. What a revolutionary showing from this offense.”
“A truly genius performance, orchestrated by a truly genius man!”
Join us next time, when Chip’s offense really goes to the dogs. (I suppose, to get the joke, you’d have to know that Chip finds a football playing dog. So yeah, that happens!)