There’s no doubt who will run the 49ers offense in 2016: head coach Chip Kelly.
Kelly is a hands-on head coach when it comes to offense. He crafted his own version of the fast-paced, wide-open spread attack at the University of Oregon and then took it to the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, he’s installed the scheme with the 49ers.
So when Kelly hired former Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills running backs coach Curtis Modkins as his offensive coordinator in late January, everyone knew Modkins wouldn’t be the philosophical czar or in-game play-caller.
This week, Modkins met with the Bay Area media for the first time during the team’s organized team activities (OTAs), and explained his role.
In short, it’s going to be a collaborative partnership between Modkins and his head coach when it comes to designing game plans and calling plays.
Modkins told reporters they will work together during the week to set game plans. While Kelly will call plays from the sidelines, he and Modkins will communicate and share ideas during games.
“I’m sure there will be dialogue in between series,” said Modkins, who will watch the game from the team’s coaching booth upstairs. “I’m sure he’ll be receptive to that. Chip will call the plays, and he’s been great at it.”
Modkins said his primary responsibility will be to upgrade the running game. He’s been a part of successful running attacks at both Buffalo and Detroit and is familiar with no-fullback sets such as Kelly uses in his spread system.
“Being able to run the ball out of a one-back set, it’s been something that we’ve been pretty good at in the past where I’ve been,” Modkins said. “And there are some things that Chip has done in the past that we’re kind of meshing together.”
Back in January, Kelly said one of the reasons he selected Modkins was because of Modkins’ experience in power-blocking schemes at Buffalo and Detroit where he used multiple running backs. Kelly also favors using multiple backs, but had a zone-blocking scheme in Philadelphia.
“I’m really looking for diversity, someone that comes from another system so that we can continue to add and make what we do better,” Kelly told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee after hiring Modkins. “I really want to bring some people in that have some different viewpoints, have some different ideas and have done it differently. Then we, collectively as a group, come together and (do) what’s the best based on the personnel we have.”
Modkins said he’s been impressed by Kelly’s willingness to listen.
“Chip is very receptive to everybody bringing their ideas to the table,” he told reporters. “A good idea has no rank, so he’s open to new thoughts.”