The only 49ers player who has played for new head coach Chip Kelly is Arik Armstead, last year’s first-round draft pick out of Oregon. And Armstead is thrilled to play for Kelly again.
Kelly was criticized in Philadelphia for everything from his sports science program to a perception that he didn’t deal straightly with his players to allegations of racism. Armstead says all of those perceptions are wrong.
Of the sports science program, Armstead told the Sacramento Bee, “I thought it was pretty cool, the scientific aspect of football and how to get your bodies ready to play. I thought it was a cool thing.”
Armstead said that contrary to perceptions of Kelly as being less than forthright with players, his experience with Kelly showed complete honesty on the coach’s part. That started with Armstead’s recruiting, when he says Kelly openly acknowledged that he might leave Oregon to coach in the NFL.
“He told me during my home visit there was a possibility he might leave,” Armstead said. “I appreciated that honesty, him not lying to me and saying, ‘Yeah, I’m going to be here the whole time you’re here, blah, blah, blah.'”
And Armstead says that if any teammates ask about allegations of Kelly being racist, he’d reply that it’s ridiculous.
“If they did ask me, I would tell them they’re crazy for thinking that,” Armstead said. “I think that was more about his philosophy and not everyone agreeing with his way of doing things. He has his way of thinking and his way of coaching. And if you don’t buy into that, then I don’t think he really wants you to be a part of what they’re doing. That’s where that stems from.”
In Philadelphia, Kelly frequently clashed with players. In San Francisco, the only player who knows Kelly loves him.