Chip Kelly is officially taking over the San Francisco 49ers after being fired from the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly enters the Bay Area hoping for more NFL success than he found on the East Coast and San Francisco is set up to help achieve that with a good amount of salary cap space and draft picks to work with. Kelly's first task will be to determine the future of Colin Kaepernick who may or may not be sticking around.
For most of the year, Kaepernick was assumed out of San Francisco. The quarterback struggled and was benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert as many predicted the 49ers would release him prior to his $11.9 million becoming fully guaranteed. However, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport is reporting that Kelly has been a big fan of Kaepernick and the quarterback is expected to remain in the Bay Area. Of course Kelly and Kaepernick appear to be a match made in football heaven as the quarterback has the right skill set to make the coach's offense work. Now the question becomes who will back him up in 2016?
The 49ers have Blaine Gabbert who performed mildly well as a starter to end the season. Gabbert is not the ideal quarterback for Kelly and considering the backup upped his value this year, a trade could be possible with many people looking for help at the position. According to John Keim of ESPN.com, the 49ers are actually expected to show interest in Robert Griffin III as a potential backup. The Redskins' quarterback is expected to hit the market and while he has had stumbling blocks, he is the ideal quarterback for Kelly.
If Kaepernick stays put, the 49ers are expected to keep him as the starter. Griffin has a similar skill set to the quarterback and would be the ideal backup for him. On the chance Kaepernick gets injury, Griffin could step in and run a similar offense. The same could be said for Johnny Manziel who would be another player that could excel under Kelly and his mobile offense.
Everything regarding Kaepernick is speculation at the moment. The quarterback is a $16.8 million salary cap hit. If the 49ers were to release him, they save $14.3 million. With the No.7 pick in the draft, Kelly could select his own quarterback. Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch and Carson Wentz are the best available in the draft. Kelly could certainly opt to pick from that pool instead of keeping Kaepernick or chasing someone else. There are options for the team moving forward.