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Could Chip Kelly be looking any better right now?

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He has handled the Colin Kaepernick situation really well.

When the Philadelphia Eagles fired Chip Kelly, the Eagles owner talked about Kelly’s lack of emotional intelligence. We had heard over and over about his problems dealing with players. There were suggestions he was racist, but even the people who did not call him a racist saw issues with his demeanor in working with people.

The San Francisco 49ers hired Kelly not too long after, and those questions were raised anew. How would he work with this locker room, and how would he work with Trent Baalke and Jed York? In the months since Kelly was hired, we’ve seen Colin Kaepernick’s trade request, followed by Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest. If you told an Eagles fan back in January about these two things happening, I feel like they would have cackled pondering how Chip would stumble.

And yet, as we stand here heading into Week 3, Kelly is looking really good. There are questions about some of his run game decisions, but given the talent on the roster, I really don’t think Kelly could be looking much better.

On Thursday, Kelly defended Colin Kaepernick’s protest, and even offered specific vocal support on the underlying issues. He had an exchange with Lowell Cohn in which he further defended Kaepernick’s behavior in answering questions after the team’s Week 1 win. That resulted in this tweet from Torrey Smith:

On Friday, Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins chatted with the media, and was asked about Kelly’s comments on Thursday. Eagles beat writer Turron Davenport had some of them:

“I have a lot of respect for Chip,” Jenkins said after practice on Friday. “I know how he is with his players. I appreciate the fact that he had Kaepernick’s back.

“It shows that the message is legitimate. Coming from a head coach in the National Football League, a white man, for him to do that, it speaks volumes.”

“It is one thing for me to do it, but we are trying to draw empathy from other people,” Jenkins explained. “It’s easy to write off somebody as another black person complaining about the system. To have a white person standing right there next to him, they can express how it may not be something they’re going through, but they could see their teammate going through.”

Jenkins is not someone to shy away from criticizing Chip Kelly. In February, he said that Kelly was not racist, but he did have issues communicating with players. He has also said on multiple occasions that Kelly and his coaching staff did not sufficiently hold the Eagles accountable.

I have no idea how things are going to shake out with Kelly and the 49ers. He could turn this franchise around and lead them to the promised land. He also could flame out and be gone after two or three seasons. I think things will improve, but it’s an unpredictable business. That being said, for the time being, it is nice to see Kelly handling himself so well in the face of slightly trying circumstances. He is a smart, logical man, so I am not surprise he is handling himself this way. And yet, it is still worth kudos given the perceptions when the 49ers hired him.