The San Francisco 49ers hired a new head coach for the second straight year, hiring Chip Kelly to replace one-and-done Jim Tomsula. Adding a new head coach means the 49ers get to start their offseason workout program in early April instead of the late April start for returning coaches.
The 49ers are one of seven teams with the early start. The other new head coaches include Dirk Koetter (Bucs), Doug Pederson (Eagles), Adam Gase (Dolphins), Ben McAdoo (Giants), Hue Jackson (Browns), and Mike Mularkey (Titans). Kelly, Jackson, and Mularkey are getting another chance as head coach, while the remaining four are getting their first chance as a head coach.
A year ago, we also had seven new head coaches. Five of them had previous head coaching experience. Gary Kubiak was the only one to earn a playoff spot, although Todd Bowles helped lead the Jets to a 10-6 record. Dan Quinn and Rex Ryan went 8-8 with the Falcons and Bills, respectively. Jack Del Rio was 7-9 with the Raiders, John Fox was 6-10, and Mike Mularkey was 2-7 as an interim head coach.
Don Banks put together a list of the seven new hires, ranking them by who is most likely to lead his new team to a playoff berth this coming season. He ranked Chip Kelly No. 1 on his list. Banks pointed to the similarities of recent struggles for the two teams. Of course, the Eagles' struggles came under Chip Kelly, so it's not exactly the best of comparisons. But there's cap space and a lot of draft picks to help in a potential turnaround. Here's what Banks said about a potential turnaround:
It's not out of the question, but the 49ers play in perhaps the toughest division in the league and have plenty more holes to fill than just the quarterback slot (like receiver). Still, Kelly is the only new coach in this year's contingent with a 10-win season to his credit in the NFL, and he's got two of them. The league's other two re-tread hires Cleveland's Hue Jackson and Tennessee's Mike Mularkey can't say that. Giving Kelly personnel authority turned into an unmitigated disaster in Philadelphia, but the man can coach and his 49ers offense could become top-five material with him calling the plays.
I don't know that I would call Jackson a typical "re-tread" hire. He is getting a second chance, but his time in Oakland was not exactly a normal situation. Al Davis passed away during Jackson's brief tenure, and there were definitely some power struggle issues.
The first playoff team from this group depends on more than just the head coach, but the hirings could be big for some of these teams. The Giants will have some continuity in their offense, which will be a big help in a potential rebound. The Dolphins have struggled with expectations, but Gase could be the kind of guy who can get the offense going a bit more consistently. I don't think the Browns are going to the playoffs right away, but I do think Jackson gets a turnaround going in year one.
What do you think?