Chip Kelly could save Kaepernick’s spot with 49ers | NevadaAppeal.com

Chip Kelly could save Kaepernick’s spot with 49ers

Joe Santoro

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

Colin Kaepernick is now the luckiest and most fortunate quarterback in the country. Chip Kelly is coming to the San Francisco 49ers to save his NFL career. On Wednesday night Kaepernick was an injured, vastly overpaid and overrated quarterback who had lost his starting job to, of all people, Blaine Gabbert. He was a guy with a once-a-generation skill set whose career was on a downward spiral. It looked like Kaepernick’s 49ers career was over and his NFL future as a starting quarterback was in limbo. That all that changed Thursday morning. Well, it might all change. Of course, nobody knows what Kelly is going to do or whether or not he even wants Kaepernick as his quarterback. It would seem, though, that Kaepernick is perfectly suited for Kelly’s high octane, explosive offense. It’s sort of like turning the pistol into a machine gun. The “Kaeperkelly” marriage could transform the NFL.

. . .

Kelly going to the 49ers, though, is a bit surprising given how power hungry 49ers general manager Trent Baalke appears to be. It was Baalke, don’t forget, who ran Jim Harbaugh out of town and it was Baalke who recently commented that he wanted a head coach who wouldn’t threaten his (Baalke’s) power. Kelly is accustomed to wielding absolute power. That’s the college coach in him and that will never change. It worked at Oregon in college and it blew up in his face in Philadelphia in the NFL. If Kelly and Baalke meet somewhere in the middle and form some sort of “Baalkelly” power union, it could make the 49ers an instant Super Bowl franchise once again.

. . .

The UNLV Rebels made every single college basketball coach very nervous and angry this week when they fired men’s basketball coach Dave Rice. College coaches, who can’t understand why any coach should ever get fired, might actually have a point this time. Rice was 98-54 in his four-plus seasons at UNLV. He won 20 or more games three times and 18 in his only other full season. He went to two NCAA tournaments. He was a fabulous recruiter. At the time of his firing he had a winning record (9-7). He was let go after losing three straight games by a combined six points. He was a UNLV graduate and a member of the Rebels 1990 national championship team. If Dave Rice can get fired in the middle of a season then any coach anywhere can get fired at any time. That makes coaches very, very nervous and angry.

. . .

The Rebels, according to most media reports, fired Rice because the boosters wanted him out. Boosters, apparently, are blatantly running UNLV sports now. They got football coach Tony Sanchez hired a little over a year ago from Bishop Gorman High and now Rice is out after losing to Fresno State by three, Colorado State by one and Wyoming by two. If the Rebels had hit one more 3-pointer in all those games Rice might have gotten another contract extension. UNLV now has a pair of former Nevada high school coaches running its two most important programs. Todd Simon, a former Findlay Prep coach, is now coaching Rice’s Rebs. It’s even money whether or not the winning coach of this year’s Nevada high school large school state championship will get the Rebels’ permanent job.

. . .

The knock on Rice is that he never seemed to get the most out of all the wonderful talent on his roster. UNLV was just 18-21 in the mediocre Mountain West the last three years under Rice. The Rebs never finished higher than third in the conference and never won the postseason tournament despite hosting the event. Losing to the Wolf Pack and coach David Carter three times in a row at one point also didn’t make the boosters happy. The criticism of Rice, however, was probably a bit unfair. The problem at UNLV is that nobody will ever replace Jerry Tarkanian. That’s why you can get fired in Las Vegas after winning 98 of 152 games. It’s the same situation with Nevada football where Chris Ault’s legacy seems to grow with each Pack loss to UNLV. It’s why Brian Polian’s Pack career is at a crossroads going into this fall despite two straight winning seasons.

. . .

The state of Nevada’s college head coaches in the three most high profile men’s sports (football, men’s basketball and baseball) is at an all-time low as far as head coaching experience is concerned. UNLV’s Sanchez, Simon and Stan Stolte (baseball) have a combined one year (Sanchez) and one game’s (Simon) worth of experience. Polian, Eric Musselman (basketball) and T.J. Bruce (baseball) have three years (Polian) and 17 games (Musselman) worth of experience. Polian, at three years under his belt, is the grizzled veteran of the state right now. All six Rebels and Pack football, men’s hoops and baseball head coaches have a combined record of 32-36.

. . .

Musselman’s Wolf Pack is going through some tough growing pains right now. The Pack lost at home for the first time this season, 74-67, to Boise State on Wednesday night and has now lost four of its last six games. A lot of the same problems that used to drive David Carter crazy — bad shooting, lack of roster depth, inconsistent play — are now driving Musselman crazy. None of these problems is all that surprising to anyone, including Musselman. What is happening now was also expected as the schedule gets tougher and more demanding. This difficult stretch is likely going to last another few weeks. They key to this season is what type of Wolf Pack team — battle born or battle weary — emerges from this difficult stretch sometime in early February.

. . .

NFL predictions: New England over Kansas City, Arizona over Green Bay, Seattle over Carolina and Denver over Pittsburgh. Kansas City, though, is playing as well as anyone right now. Seattle was extremely lucky to beat Minnesota last week and it’s hard to trust the Green Bay Packers and Peyton Manning this year. So don’t bet your children’s college fund on any of the predictions you see here. This is all about gut feelings. I don’t believe in Kansas City and Carolina but that just might be because a Chiefs-Panthers matchup might make me watch Puppy Bowl for three hours on Super Bowl Sunday. Pittsburgh is only still playing because the Cincinnati Bengals’ roster is full of idiots and Aaron Rodgers has played most of the season like he can’t wait to get back home to Olivia Munn.

. . .

The Los Angeles Rams are back where they belong in southern California. The Rams should never have left Los Angeles in the first place. St. Louis Rams always sounded funny, like Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Raiders and Indianapolis Colts. The NFC West, at least from a geography standpoint, now makes sense again. The best thing about the Rams going back home, though, is that it revives the Rams-49ers rivalry. The Rams moving to St. Louis two decades ago killed it. Oh, they tried to fake it the last 20 or so years. But it was never the same. The rivalry has now been reborn.