After a one year deal in Denver that led him to a Super Bowl victory, Evan Mathis came out with some zingers regarding his former head coach Chip Kelly through an email exchange with Denver reporter Mike Klis. The most significant of the quotes mentioned that Kelly could not handle big locker room personalities and that led to several marquee player's departure from the city of brotherly love.
There were many things that Chip had done that showed me he wasn’t building a championship team. Two of the main issues that concerned me were: 1. A never-evolving, vanilla offense that forced our own defense to play higher than normal play counts. 2. His impatience with certain personality types even when they were blue-chip talents. The Broncos team I was on would have eaten Chip alive. I don’t think he could have handled the plethora of large personalities.
There may some truth to what Mathis had to say but it's important to take a look at how his release from the Eagles unfolded. Most of it is outlined in an article by Eliot Shorr-Parks on nj.com. It began when Mathis wanted to rework his contract in 2014 and former GM Howie Roseman offered a deal that was left on the table. 2015 would have been the final year of Mathis' five year contract and Kelly, who had no knowledge of the Roseman deal was not willing to rework the contract at that point.
Mathis was released in June 2015 after no willing trade partners were found. Kelly stated:
We were asked for a release by his agent on several occasions.
Upon his release, Mathis claimed vehemently that had not wanted to be released. Shorr-Parks reported:
Mathis went as far as to bypass both his agent and top personnel executive Ed Marynowitz, reaching out to Kelly personally in an attempt to make things work.
As for the claim by Kelly that Mathis continued to want to be released even up to last week, the guard said that was not true, and that he had every intent on coming to both the mandatory mini-camp (which started Tuesday) and training camp even without a new deal.
Flash forward to a football season and a Super Bowl ring later and Mathis' tune has changed significantly. He admits requesting to be released repeatedly, even going as far as including Engelbert Humperdinck's "Please Release Me" as part of the pleading, sending a link to the song in a text to Kelly.
All of this background is not to say that Kelly comes to Santa Clara without issues but that Mathis has lost some credibility at this point. Just keep that in mind after reading his comments about Kelly, who's vanilla offense set franchise scoring records in 2013 (442 points) and 2014 (474 points). Just to put things perspective, the 49ers have only broken the 400 point mark twice in the last 15 years, 409 points in 2001 and 406 points in 2013.