San Francisco 49ers: Kelly Hire Shows York And Baalke Learned Nothing

January 20, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers chief executive officer Jed York (left), Chip Kelly (center), and San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke (right) pose for a photo in a press conference after naming Kelly as the new head coach for the San Francisco 49ers at Levi
January 20, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers chief executive officer Jed York (left), Chip Kelly (center), and San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke (right) pose for a photo in a press conference after naming Kelly as the new head coach for the San Francisco 49ers at Levi /

The San Francisco 49ers are coming off a disaster of a season that saw them fire their head coach and hire a new one, all but guaranteeing that the disaster will continue.

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The San Francisco 49ers are coming off a season in which everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. But golly gee, given the fact that the Wonder Twins – Jed York and Trent Baalke – pushed a highly successful coach in Jim Harbaugh out the door and elevated a man whose main qualification was the ability to enable them by never saying no, who could have seen that coming?

After finishing the season 5-11 and amid tremendous fan discontent, the York/Baalke brain trust decided it needed to give the appearance of doing something to right their ship. And make no mistake, what they did following the season was pure theater meant to restore confidence in the team among the fan base.

Of course, the actions they took put the blame everywhere but where it belonged – with them. In shaking up the team, they certainly didn’t do anything to hold themselves accountable for the mess it had become.

Tomsula was fired almost as soon as their season ended. It was an unfortunate, but predictable ending to the soap opera that was San Francisco’s 2015 season. Though, Tomsula wasn’t entirely to blame for the 49ers’ woes last year. Yes, he was completely out of his depth and never should have been elevated to the head coaching position to begin with. To most people, it seemed that the only reason he was tapped to be the team’s HC was his ability to say “yes” to whatever York and Baalke wanted.

But make no mistake, injuries, unexpected retirements, expected retirements, and the play of Colin Kaepernick falling off the table and into the gutter helped completely derail the 49ers’ season. And oh yeah, let’s not forget that a very poor draft by York and Baalke did nothing to help Tomsula or the team go anywhere last season.

So, the solution to the team’s woes as York and Baalke saw it, was to can their yes man and bring in – well – another yes man.

Enter new 49ers head coach Chip Kelly.

Kelly had tremendous success as the head coach at Oregon. When he made the jump to the NFL, he had some success in his first two seasons in Philadelphia, posting back to back 10-6 records and a playoff berth in his first two seasons.

Related Story: Can Kaepernick Save His Career Under Kelly?

In his third season on the Philadelphia sidelines though, flush with power after winning a battle with GM Howie Roseman, Kelly dismantled the team and put it all back together in his image. Unfortunately for Philadelphia fans, that image was a big, fat disaster. The Eagles were a hot mess on the field – as well as off of it – and they stumbled to a 7-9 record. And honestly speaking, they were lucky to get to seven wins.

Kelly had done such a poor job that his name wasn’t being bandied about the coaching carousel when heads started to roll around the league following the end of the season. Most people believed that Kelly was going to have to go back to the collegiate ranks after he got passed over for job after job.

Enter the San Francisco 49ers.

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York and Baalke gave a token effort to their coaching search in the wake of Tomsula’s firing. They interviewed Jets running backs coach Anthony Lynn, Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, and even former Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.

The search wasn’t incredibly extensive, nor did they draw out the process very long before – to the amazement and consternation of many – they settled on bringing Kelly in to be their newest head coach.

To say it was an uninspired choice would be putting it kindly. To say they decided to bring in Tomsula 2.0 would probably be a better choice of words. Kelly was down and out and he was likely on his way out of the league before the Wonder Twins pulled him off the scrap heap and slapped a 49ers shirt on him.

What was Kelly’s main qualification for the job? What was it that put him head and shoulders over the other candidates they interviewed? Simply put, just like Tomsula, Kelly wasn’t and isn’t in a position to say no to York and Baalke. If he wanted to stay in the NFL and not have to back to the college coaching ranks with his tail between his legs, he is going to have to say and do whatever they want him to say or do.

And make no mistake, whenever they put on the music, he is going to dance. Just like Tomsula.

A coach like Hue Jackson or Tom Coughlin, both with solid resumes, strong minds, and even stronger personalities weren’t going to work for York and Baalke. Both of them have their own philosophies and a reputation for not giving in and for doing things their own way. Neither of them were likely willing to dance to whatever song York and Baalke were playing – hence, neither of them were the “right fit” for the job. Which brings us back to Kelly.

What is the best case scenario here though? If Kelly manages to get the team back on the right path and gets them back to winning again, we very well could see this whole process play out once again. If Kelly gets the 49ers winning again, he is going to make a play for more power. He’s going to want more control and more say in shaping the team’s roster. It’s inevitable. It’s just how guys like Kelly are wired.

And how is that going to play out with York and Baalke – two guys who have already very clearly demonstrated that they will not be pushed to the sidelines by a coach with an ego, who steals their thunder, or a coach who challenges their authority.

Next: What The Draft Holds In Store For The 49ers

By hiring Kelly – an uninspired choice to say the least – York and Baalke thought they were bringing in a coach who would do their bidding without taking their shine. What they brought in though, was a ticking time bomb. Kelly is either going to fail as miserably as he did in his final season in Philly or he is going to succeed – which will cause a personality clash and power struggle within the franchise once again.

Eventually, York and Baalke are going to need to decide what they want for themselves and for the 49ers. Do they want this franchise to actually be successful and contend for championships? Or do they simply want their names in the headlines and the faces in the papers? Because they cannot have their cake and eat it too.