Since the day Chip Kelly became a head coach in the NFL, there have been questions regarding if he would ever return to college football, particularly the University of Oregon. There were even more questions as the seat beneath Mark Helfrich became hotter and hotter. Now that Helfrich is no longer in his job at Oregon, and the 49ers are 1-10, questions about Chip Kelly’s future in the NFL have reached a fever pitch.
All along Kelly has denied any interest in returning to Oregon or having any contact with anyone from the university regarding employment. For the first time since being let go as head coach, Helfrich, who is also a friend of Kelly’s, spoke on the record about Kelly and a possible return to college. He talked about Kelly’s distaste for recruiting, and the challenge he is choosing to pursue in the NFL.
Helfrich's full comments regarding Chip Kelly: pic.twitter.com/iMCeZjApNI— Tyson Alger (@tysonalger) December 2, 2016
Phil Knight, founder of Nike and the most significant booster of Oregon’s Athletic department, was in attendance at the 49ers match up with Tampa Bay, which also raised a few eyebrows. When asked about his appearance, Kelly retorted that he is friends with Knight and that Knight had attended games when Kelly was the head coach in Philadelphia and they came west to play in Levi’s stadium so it was nothing new.
As the 49ers travel down the road of lost battles, the questions will only continue to grow regarding what shake up may take place at the end of the season regarding personnel and or coaching staff. It would appear that general manager Trent Baalke is on the hottest seat, but only time will tell. It looks as though Kelly has his work cut out for himself and he is not looking to give up on the challenge anytime soon.