Colin Kaepernick spent just a year playing under Chip Kelly. In fact, the former University of Oregon coach would only spend a year as the man in charge of the San Francisco 49ers. And while Kelly failed miserably in his second stint as an NFL head coach, he earned the respect of his players for supporting Kaepernick after he took a knee during the national anthem.
Four years later, neither Kaepernick nor Kelly have a job in the NFL. Still, that hasn’t stopped them from embarking on new career paths.
Colin Kaepernick and Chip Kelly spent one year together in San Francisco
The Jim Harbaugh era in San Francisco came to a close after four impressive years. One forgettable season under Jim Tomsula later, the 49ers hired Chip Kelly to be their new head coach. Of course, he arrived after getting axed in Philadelphia following a 6-9 campaign in 2015.
When Kelly came on board, it seemingly should have set Colin Kaepernick up for even more success. After all, the 2011 second-round pick flashed Pro Bowl potential under Harbaugh. Given Kelly’s track record of success implementing his unique offensive system, it appeared as though Kaepernick could conceivably take a gigantic step forward.
That didn’t prove to be the case. After going 26-21 in three seasons with the Eagles, Kelly’s only year with the 49ers ended up an abject disaster. San Francisco went just 2-14 and ranked 27th in scoring. The 49ers also finished dead-last in points allowed.
Meanwhile, Kaepernick started 11 games and actually played some of the most efficient football of his career. He threw 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions while running for nearly 500 yards. Yet, nobody cared much about what he did on the football field. That’s what happens when you become the NFL’s most controversial figure after taking a knee.
Kaepernick received surprising support from his head coach after taking a knee
When Colin Kaepernick took a knee in peaceful protest of police brutality, it essentially kickstarted his career as an activist while simultaneously derailing his value to NFL teams. Ultimately, the move cost the talented quarterback his football career. However, according to former 49ers receiver Jeremy Kerley, Kaepernick had a big backer in Chip Kelly.
Speaking with TMZ Sports, Kerley relayed how his former coach stepped up during a difficult situation. Kelly brought the team together and gave his quarterback the floor to speak his mind. Of course, that may have been a surprise considering Kelly’s NFL career included several race-related incidents. Still, the powerful gesture didn’t go unnoticed by Kerley.
“For Chip being able to do that, I think that was pretty cool for him to kind of take the elephant out the room and remove all doubt,” Kerley said. “I think that was pretty cool, I love Chip for it. It kind of removed all doubts and stuff in the locker room and we just bonded, like we were close and it was fun.”
Despite finishing the season with a horrific record, Kerley surprisingly said the 2016 season still ranks as the favorite of his eight-year NFL career. While Kerley stuck around the NFL longer than Chip Kelly and Colin Kaepernick, his former coach and quarterback have embarked on new journeys outside of the league.
Kelly and his former QB have embarked on new career paths
Ultimately, the NFL said goodbye to Chip Kelly years ago. However, he got another big-time job by landing at UCLA. Still, the change in scenery has done little to revitalize his once-promising coaching career.
Kelly led the Bruins to a dismal 3-9 record in his first year on campus. Last fall, UCLA improved by just one game. Another bad finish could force Kelly to find another job yet again.
On the other hand, Kaepernick hasn’t thrown a pass or put on a helmet in quite some time. Yet, he has made an incredible impact on society through his activism efforts.
Recently, he scored a deal with Netflix to help produce a series about his high-school days and battles with racism. He also started his own publishing company before landing a deal with Medium. Plus, he’s scored major donations from powerful figures to support his Know Your Rights Camp.
Ultimately, Colin Kaepernick and Chip Kelly couldn’t make it work on the field, but the former NFL quarterback can at least respect that his coach stood by his side during a difficult time.