SANTA CLARA – San Francisco 49ers coach Chip Kelly made his strongest statement, yet, about where he stands when it comes to seeking jobs elsewhere.
It is a view of commitment he said he learned from his father, E. Paul Kelly, who passed away on Friday at the age of 87. Kelly returned from his dad’s funeral in Portland, Maine, late Tuesday night.
Kelly held his typical Wednesday press briefing. Afterward, he went to the practice field, where numerous 49ers players greeted him with hugs. Just moments earlier, he guaranteed he will never leave a team while there are games remaining on the schedule.
“I will never leave my job for another job while a season is going on,” Kelly said. “I don’t think that’s fair. I didn’t do it when I was in college. I didn’t talk to anybody in the National Football League until after our bowl game was over.
“I will not leave a team with three games to go because I got a bigger, better deal. That’s not the way I’m wired. “
Kelly added, “That’s one thing I did learn from my dad. I have a commitment. They made a commitment to me. I made a commitment to them. I’m not searching around and looking for other jobs while I have a job.”
Despite stating multiple times in recent weeks he would not be returning to coach in the college ranks, Kelly’s name continued to surface in connection with the Oregon job. That possibility officially closed on Wednesday morning, as Oregon hired former South Florida coach Willie Taggart for the job.
Kelly’s father passed away on Friday night. Chip Kelly flew to the northeast to join his family, including his mother, who urged him to coach the 49ers’ game on Sunday in Chicago.
After the 49ers’ 26-6 loss to the Chicago Bears, Kelly returned to Maine to attend the services.
“I think you’re just really thankful for the time we had with him,” Kelly said. “He lived a vibrant and long life. In 87 years, he touched a lot of people in his life. It was evident to us at the funeral. A lot of people came to express their condolences. He had a huge impact. It’s difficult time. We all feel for my mom. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the times we had with him.”
Kelly described his dad as a “life-long learner” who had a “thirst for knowledge, an insatiable appetite for information.” Paul Kelly also was described as having a great sense of humor.
According to his obituary, which ran in the New Hampshire Union Leader, Paul Kelly taught the four Kelly rules to his kids at a young age:
Rule #1 - Have fun!
Rule #2 - Stick together!
Rule #3 - Love Mom!
Rule #4 -&%$*# Dad!
The obituary also stated Paul Kelly was “a truly devoted San Francisco 49ers fan.”
“My dad’s loyal, now,” Chip Kelly said. “He actually got buried in 49ers gear. He did not want to wear a suit in the coffin. He wore a suit for his whole career as a trial lawyer. He wanted to wear a 49ers sweatsuit.”