The San Francisco 49ers contacted Alabama offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin, to discuss the possibility of him joining Chip Kelly's coaching staff in the same job title, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The specifics are unclear as to exactly what happened, but contact was made.
Kiffin, like Chip Kelly, is a polarizing figure among football fans and media, with very few neutral opinions. Kiffin, who may have acted hastily in leaving Tennessee for his "dream job" at USC very well could have matured since then. In taking a back seat to Nick Saban, there is a belief that he is biding his time until the next big opportunity presents itself.
That being said, it's not certain that the 49ers offensive coordinator position is a big enough opportunity for Kiffin with the way things are trending in Tuscaloosa. The 49ers discussed the OC position with Kiffin a year ago, but he elected to return to Alabama. National Signing Day is February 3, two weeks from Wednesday, so if Kiffin is going anywhere, we'll find out very soon.
Kiffin has been the offensive coordinator under Nick Saban for two seasons after being dramatically fired near/on the tarmac in his third season as the head coach of USC. He had previously spent six seasons at USC under Pete Carroll before his two seasons in Oakland and one in Tennessee, both of the latter as head coach. It has already been determined that Kelly will likely be calling plays for the 49ers offense, so as offensive coordinator, what exactly would Kiffin be doing other than learning a new system with a franchise that has instability at the quarterback position?
The fact that Kelly would discuss options with Kiffin is no surprise. Kelly spent some time with the Alabama program prior to the Championship game during their preparation and his name was mentioned by Kirk Herbstreit during the broadcast.
You're seeing more tempo tonight from Alabama than you typically see. Lane Kiffin had worked, actually in the last week, with Chip Kelly. Chip Kelly visited Tuscaloosa and one of the things they talked about is what tempo can do to a Clemson defense. And you've seen a lot of evidence of that tempo tonight.
When asked about the visit, Kiffin replied:
It was good to have Chip come in and just spend some time with him, talk about some different things. It was really good to see him. I've always had a good relationship with him and it's always good to be able to bring some people in to get some ideas from.
Multiple names have been connected with Kelly as possible offensive coaches. Kelly's quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia, Ryan Day, is one option. Former Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo is another option who already had an interview with the 49ers. Kiffin is not in a position where he has to desperately cling to any opportunity presented. Nonetheless, it is interesting that Chip Kelly at least reached out about it.