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Chris Borland, Chip Kelly included in NFL’s 100 most important people

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USA Today recently released a list of the 100 most important people in and around the NFL, and two people with San Francisco 49ers connections are included. Former linebacker Chris Borland is listed at No. 25, and current head coach Chip Kelly is listed at No. 51. Here’s what USA Today had to say about Borland:

Former San Francisco 49ers linebacker. He retired after a promising 2014 rookie season at age 24, becoming the voice of concussion awareness. Despite good health, Borland feared developing CTE and predicts more players will leave the league early for similar reasons.

Borland is not the only player to retire early due to health concerns. And not even the only 49ers player given Anthony Davis’s status. But he has been relatively outspoken about health concerns. The long-term viability of the NFL is not entirely certain given the concussion issue, and Borland will be included in that discussion for the foreseeable future. The more important question will be how youth participation numbers look in the coming years. The NFL is fine for the time-being, but if youth participation drops in the coming years, it could be a different story in 20 or 30 years.

Here is what USA Today had to say about Chip Kelly:

San Francisco 49ers head coach. He went 10-6 each of his first two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles but bombed (and was fired) in 2015 after assuming control of personnel decisions. Kelly is back to mere coaching with the 49ers, but many of his creative offensive concepts have been emulated throughout the league. Still, if he’s not successful with the Niners, will that deter owners from reaching into the college ranks for a coach?

The players are the ones making the plays (cliche alert), but for the 2016 San Francisco 49ers, the focus will be on Chip Kelly. Fittingly enough, that’s sort of how it was in 2011 when the team hired Jim Harbaugh. The team was struggling to do much of anything, and Harbaugh was an important part of the turnaround. Any 49ers success will require improved play from the offensive line and quarterback position, but Kelly’s impact on the offense will be as big a story as anything else with the 49ers this season. Yes, Blaine Gabbert or Colin Kaepernick will need to step up, but in terms of the national view of importance, it is not at all surprising to see Kelly on the list.