A common perception of Chip Kelly’s wide-open, fast-paced attack with the Philadelphia Eagles and at the University of Oregon is that it’s a pass-oriented scheme.
Yet the stats show it’s primarily a ground-centered offense.
Last week, in fact, in his first session with the media since he was announced as head coach of the 49ers, he called his system a “running offense.” Plus, his new offensive coordinator, Curtis Modkins, was the running backs coach of the Detroit Lions. Modkins will be tasked with getting the run game up to speed.
In Philadelphia, Kelly's Eagles led the NFL in rushing his first season and were in the top 12 in 2014 and 2015.
This past season the 49ers struggled to run the ball effectively, though they hoped that would be their strong suit entering the season. The 49ers ranked 21st in the NFL in rushing, averaging just 96.5 yards per game. If Kelly wants the running game to flourish, GM Trent Baalke will have to address both the offensive line and depth at the running back position.
The offensive line was inconsistent and hampered by the absence of Daniel Kilgore at center for most of the season and the unexpected retirement of right tackle Anthony Davis – who’s hinted at coming out of retirement for 2016.
No. 1 running back Carlos Hyde was strong until an injury cut his season short, but veteran Reggie Bush may not return and Mike Davis got little chance as a rookie to get carries. The Niners may need to invest in a running back to complement Hyde.
But Kelly says he’s excited about Hyde’s potential.
“I am a huge Carlos Hyde fan,” Kelly said in an interview with KNBR recently. “He had a tremendous career at Ohio State, was very coveted coming out. I thought he was a great pick by Trent, and he’s got a bright future here.”
Especially if Kelly and Modkins can again get the running game up to speed.