Geep Chryst’s coaching history isn’t exactly comforting to 49ers fans.
First, the team’s new offensive coordinator was hired only after a series of higher-profile coaches either declined interest in the job or took jobs elsewhere. Second, Chryst was the quarterbacks coach of the Niners last season when quarterback Colin Kaepernick seemed to take a big step back in his progression.
And third, in Chryst’s only previous tenure as an NFL offensive coordinator, with the San Diego Chargers in 1999 and 2000, his offense ranked 26th and 28th overall.
Reports that Chryst had been hired –coming in the wake of the firing of Jim Harbaugh and the hiring of new head coach Jim Tomsula -- drew some scathing comments from 49ers fans online.
“I hate you, Jed York,” said one, referring to the team’s CEO who decided to let Harbaugh go. “Faithful for life, but I feel that I am now ‘stuck’ cheering for this train wreck.” Wrote another: “This is a total and complete collapse. Will be an interesting season to watch from that view point. Back to the dark ages.”
Some point, too, to the fact Chryst played a big role in the 49ers’ play-calling in the red zone – for both good and bad. It was Chryst who reportedly called the play to tight end Vernon Davis that resulted in a game-winning touchdown vs. the Saints in a 2012 playoff game. But he also, then, is partly responsible for the 49ers’ lack of success in the red zone in 2014 (just 43 percent of possessions resulted in TDs, the fourth-worst rate in the league).
But Chryst is a smart man, Princeton educated and with a master’s degree, who’s been coaching since 1987 and in the NFL since 1991. As tight ends/offensive quality control coach with the Carolina Panthers in 2009, he helped craft a rushing attack that produced two backs with more than 1,100 yards rushing in the same season. And in 2011 with the 49ers, he helped tutor Alex Smith to the best season of his career. It was a turnaround season for Smith, who hadn’t lived up to expectations to that point. And, he helped Kaepernick quickly develop into a dyanmic playmaker in succeeding Smith.
Chryst has been consistently praised by former Bears coach Mike Ditka – who gave him his first NFL job – and Harbaugh.
Yet Chryst now will have to prove himself all over again. After the 49ers’ offensive stagnation in 2014, the release of Harbaugh, the hiring of Tomsula and accusations that York and GM Trent Baalke have “settled” for some less-expensive coaching options, Chryst is in a tough position.
What he says at his introductory news conference about schemes and ideas will be very interesting.