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Veteran players weigh in on Trent Baalke, Chip Kelly

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Veteran players spoke about repeated change and their feelings about Baalke and Kelly as people

Another season, another head coaching change. Shortly after the final game of the season, the San Francisco 49ers announced that head coach Chip Kelly was relieved of his duties. General manager Trent Baalke confirmed on KNBR that he was fired on the Friday before the final game.

This is all par for the course with an organization that is not quite sure how to go about things procedurally. At the time of these interviews, the team had still not been formally informed that Baalke had been fired or the future of their current head coach.

Contrary to a few reports in Philadelphia, the players seemed to like Kelly and many of them complimented how he kept the team together with so many new faces due to injury as well as with their losing record.

Several players spoke about coaching changes, and what Kelly meant to them as a person:

NaVorro Bowman

Us as players, we just have to just remember our place, being players and just working on the field and doing those things. Everything else we [don’t] handle so just try to let the ownership and things like that figure it out.

Baalke is the one who drafted you, is it going to be weird not having him around?

It is. Me and Trent had a great relationship throughout the seven years I’ve been in the league, he’s cared about me as a person, not just football player so it’s deeper than this. It’s sad to see him leave but I wish him the best as he continues to do his GM job.

Reports are that Chip will be fired as well. What are your thoughts?

Like I said, it’s nothing that we can control, feelings are opinionated and I’m sure certain feelings feel a certain way and things have to be done but we as players don’t have anything to do with anybody being let go here.

How frustrating is it going through another coaching change?

You know, you want to build the camaraderie, you want to know who you’re going to work with every single day, so to be going through so many in such a short time, it’s tough. You have to be a professional and understand that’s a part of this lifestyle. So hopefully whoever comes on or whatever happens, guys that are here to play for the 49ers understand that and go out a represent well.

Is this locker room upset Chip will be gone?

I’m sure they are. We’ve stuck together throughout this whole season, going to work, being who we are every single day. Chip has stayed focused, never mentioned anything like this was coming up. Just being a professional is what’s been taking place throughout the season.

Colin Kaepernick

I will say I appreciate Chip and what he’s done as far as coming to work every day and making sure this team stays focused and being resilient in not very good circumstances as far as how our team was playing win-loss record wise. So, I do appreciate the fact that he came in every day, worked his tail off to make sure that this team was prepared.

Saw you give Chip a pretty big hug right before the game. Was that somewhat related to the news that he might be going and you wanted to at least let him know something there?

No. I appreciate Chip and what he does on a daily basis regardless of the circumstances. I make sure I go over, I give him a hug before every game. And to me, he’s someone that, the resilience he’s shown with the circumstances that have gone on this year, I appreciate that.

Joe Staley

Chip said he learned every day from veterans like you. What did you learn from Chip?

Well, I learned how to stay together really. As bad as it is to say that with a 2-14 record because we are a results business, it’s a bummer. This whole season’s kind of been a bummer. One thing, there was a time in the last two weeks when I looked around the locker room and there were guys who I don’t even know what their names were. Turnover was crazy, we had a ton of injuries coming down the stretch and nobody really blinked, everybody was just kind of going to work. we could have really really really lost this football team. I thought he did a great job of just keeping everybody focused in this kind of crappy season. Like I said though it’s a results business. If we were 13-3 and a terribly divided football team, I think that would be much more fun for me than a being a close football team and being 2-14.

Torrey Smith

Did Chip say anything tonight indicating his future?

He always thanks everyone for their love and support each and every week so I wouldn’t say he said anything crazy in my opinion.

You were one of Chip’s biggest supporters.

Still am.

So how tough is this?

He got fired? We are talking in hypotheticals. I don’t know anything yet. He’s a good dude man. I understand the business side of it. You know what I mean? I think he’s a good coach and a better person but that’s how this business goes. Plenty of good people in tough spots and you know when we lose like we did. have a season like we have, changes are made or can be made and that’s from coaches to players, that’s all of us. We were all a part of the problem. That’s why our record was what it was.

Trent Baalke confirmed he was fired on Friday. Did he address the team?

I haven’t seen him yet. I think he was just in here but I was going to the bathroom. I didn’t see him. I haven't talked to him yet.

So the players weren’t told by anyone or were they?

Um, no.