A lot of NFL players are in Houston for Super Bowl 51 festivities including San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jeremy Kerley. He sat down with NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano about being a free agent, Kyle Shanahan’s offense and why former head coach Chip Kelly might not have worked out in Santa Clara.
Kerley was statistically far and away the top receiver for the 49ers in 2016 with 64 catches on 115 targets for 667 yards giving him an average of 10.4 yards per catch. He scored three touchdowns and was the most dynamic of the WR corps with a few catches that were highlight reel worthy. Quinton Patton was statistically the second WR with 37 catches on 63 targets for 408 yards.
Clearly by this interview, it’s not just the fans that are excited about Shanahan and his offense coming to town. Kerley spoke about what Shanahan has done for WR Taylor Gabriel who quietly moved up to third in receptions for the Falcons behind only Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu.
Kerley also spoke about his former head coach Chip Kelly and what a surprise it was to hear he was no longer employed by the 49ers. Along with believing it will be difficult for Kelly to be a head coach in the NFL again, he thought that a system like Kelly’s needs a few years to get everyone on the same page. The midseason quarterback change didn’t do the team any favors either.
The comment that gave me the most concern was that Kerley believes that there weren’t a lot of players who played “all the way through.” Christian Ponder spoke about players needing to be in their playbook a little more which also reflects upon the effort given by some of their teammates. Kerley did, however, say that there is talent on the team and there are players who want to win.
Here’s the full transcript and you can watch the video here.
Do you want to be a 49ers receiver come the first week of March?
Definitely. I feel comfortable there. I feel like I’m at home so I definitely want to go back and hopefully everything works out.
They are picking second, there’s a new coach. Other than the Bay Area is fantastic, why do you want to go back?
I see a lot of upside to being over there. Like I said it’s a great place, they got a lot of great talent. A lot of people don’t understand that we were in a lot of those games. 2-14 was a tough record but we were in a lot of those games so I think it will be great to go back and be around a lot of those guys that want to win and I think with a new atmosphere it will be good.
Do you think that under ‘wink-wink’ new head coach Kyle Shanahan you can win soon?
Yeah, definitely. You just look at what he's doing over there in Atlanta. They have an explosive, explosive offense. They have a lot of good things going over there for them and like I said, we have the talent in San Fran. We need a couple more pieces, add a couple more pieces, maybe a receiver here and there. But I think with the change with John Lynch as the new GM, it’ll be good.
What makes you want to play in Kyle Shanahan’s system.
First of all he likes to throw that ball. I think that’s a key thing for me. I think he does a good job of putting guys in the right places to be successful. I’ll give you a little example: using Taylor Gabriel, how he’s using him. The guy’s definitely come on to the Atlanta Falcons and he’s making a lot of noise and I think when he hopefully gets over to San Fran, we can do some of the same things. Like I said we have a lot of good guys. I’ll give you Quinton Patton who is an explosive, explosive player. We definitely didn't get the ball in his hands enough this year. You get a different coach in there get a different couple of guys around him, he’ll do a great job.
What went wrong with Chip? Why didn't it work?
Besides injuries, I mean we lost NaVorro kind of early, Aaron Lynch had his little ordeal or whatever, we had a couple guys in key places that we were hurting with a little bit. I really feel like it kind of fooled us. That first game where we came out and handled our business like that and went 28-0 against the Rams and everybody thought it was going to be just this and that and then we came out and had a couple tough ones in a row. So, I don’t know, I just think, it’s hard to say. I don’t want to say that I feel like guys just stopped playing, but I just feel like we just didn’t have a lot of guys playing all the way through.
So at one point you just knew it wasn’t going anywhere.
Yeah, so to [speak].
At what point do you think he’s not back?
Obviously, I don’t think a lot of people thought that he wasn't going to be...I didn't’ think he was going to gone until he was gone.
You were surprised?
Yeah, I was definitely surprised.
So when you heard the report in week 17...
I caught me by total surprise. I had talked to my receiver coach and I was just kind of like ‘I didn’t think that was going to happen’ I didn’t think he was going to be gone that soon. Obviously I thought that maybe they’d give him another chance. It was his first year. In that type of offense, it kind of needs a couple of years to get going. I feel like it takes a couple guys to be close and guys to be on the same page so we didn’t really have that. We had the quarterback change and that kind of threw little things off. So, it was a rough one.
Do you think Chip Kelly is a head coach again in the NFL?
I hope so. Do I think with that offense that he has, I think it will be tough for him. Probably not, just based off of what he’s been through and the record that he’s had with us, the 49ers, but he did take the Philadelphia Eagles to the playoffs, but I think it will be tough for him to get back as a head coach.