Sakamoto: What’s Next For 49ers Chip Kelly And GM Trent Baalke?

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The suspense and anticipation is finally over as the San Francisco 49ers named HC Chip Kelly as the team’s 20th head coach. A coaching search that only a ‘short list’ of candidates were considered according to CEO Jed York, it was GM Trent Baalke who led the process in finding his golden boy.

Now, as Kelly prepares to recruit an elite coaching staff, it will be interesting to see who he brings in as many of the NFL’s top assistants are either already under contract or have signed elsewhere.

Many of you Forever Faithful have questions regarding the 49ers current state which is why I opened a mailbag. From pending free-agency targets to what the team will do in this year’s upcoming draft, these are all valid questions as I provide my own take on what the team may do.

So without further ado, here is my in-depth answers to the questions you have regarding the red and gold…

Hi Kyle. I haven’t heard any news on DB Coach Tim Lewis aside from the fact that he is currently interviewing with the Cincinnati Bengals for the same position. FS Eric Reid tweeted out that he wanted Lewis as his Defensive Coordinator but that’s highly unlikely as I believe Lewis will NOT be retained.

Good Morning, Craig. I know Kelly met with DC Eric Mangini but as to whether he will stay or not remains to be seen. I spoke with many of the team’s defensive players and they all want him back there’s no question about that. They say he’s extremely ‘smart’ and ‘innovative’ while putting them in the best position to make plays.

With that being said, if Kelly decided to go in another direction do not be surprised if DC Billy Davis comes back to the Bay Area.

Pedro, that is a great question. With Kelly’s spread offense making it’s way to Levi’s Stadium, they will need to have a play caller who is familiar with that scheme. From the shotgun read-option to using wide splits between offensive lineman, it will be imperative that the team has a coordinator who can relate to that scheme.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryan Day comes to join Kelly’s staff. Love the name by the way. But in all seriousness, Day has experience as both a player and coach while working with or under Kelly as a quarterback and quarterbacks coach respectively. He understands the offense and set numerous records under Kelly including touchdowns and completion percentage while at University of New Hampshire.

Day has rapport with Kelly, so it would be wise for Kelly to maintain that relationship, as the quarterback position will need the utmost continuity and team chemistry.

In regards to WR DeAndre Smelter he’s definitely a raw project. One thing I will say about Smelter is his blocking skills are elite. “You can’t play at Georgia Tech if you don’t block,” Smelter told me. So that’s encouraging. He has big hands and has a big catching radius but not sure he will be anything other than a No. 4 wide receiver in 2016, as they slowly bring him back.

Good Morning, Sean. It’s hard to say what they do at No. 7 as free-agency has yet to take place. However, the way the board currently stacks up, I would think that Kelly addresses the team’s offensive line or skill positions while taking either WR Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss) or T Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame).

Hi, Richie. The 49ers better be active in free-agency because there are plenty of players who would fit Kelly’s scheme on the offensive side of the ball. I have been extremely high on RT Mitchell Schwartz and feel he would instantly provide a boost while having the football IQ to thrive under Kelly’s spread offense.

Other players the 49ers may target include, DE Muhammad WilkersonOLB Bruce Irvin, G Amini Silatolu, G Jeff Allen, and WR Marvin Jones.

I want WR Anquan Boldin back but I highly doubt that happens. He says he wants to come back to the 49ers but that’s the proper thing to say. I believe he truly wants to go to a Super Bowl contender and a team like the New England Patriots would serve him well.

Hi Tony. John DeFilippo could likely end up as the team’s Offensive Coordinator while ST Dave Fipp joins him on Kelly’s staff. Both have ties there and I would think at least one of the two would be coaching the 49ers up in 2016.

Kyle, nothing will surprise me as Kelly has proven he has loyalty to Oregon. He traded for RB Kenjon Barner back in 2014 and also traded for LB Kiko Alonso in 2015. Will it happen when the team already has DE Quinton Dial, DE Mike Purcell, and DE Arik Armstead remains to be seen.

GM Trent Baalke said in any given draft there are only five or six players who can play a true four-technique. That includes but not limited to gap integrity, setting the edge, and consistently pushing the pocket.

Hi Chris. I think the Kelly signing means that all is not lost in QB Colin Kaepernick. Remember, Kelly tried to trade for Kap while with the Eagles so don’t be surprised if he’s the team’s day one starter in 2016. Not to mention, QB Blaine Gabbert also has played under the spread offense while at Missouri, it’s not likely the team will draft a player in the early rounds.

To put this in perspective, you have to think about this from Baalke’s perspective. He is on a short leash and using a high draft pick on a quarterback who will need some time to groom probably wouldn’t be in his best interest, as he may not be around to see the player’s progress.

Thank you for the question, Buck. Who I think the 49ers should target and who I believe they will target are two different things. Who I believe the 49ers are targeting right now include RT Mitchell Schwartz and OLB Bruce Irvin.

That’s a great question, Ryan. And I can’t help but think that Miller will be used more-so on special-teams. Kelly’s spread offense will incorporate 3-5 wide receiver sets which means, Miller may be on the sidelines for the majority of the team’s offensive snaps. Will they try and move him? I hope not but time will tell.

Hi, Lance. I would not draft a tight-end early simply because the team already has TE Busta Anderson, TE Blake Bell, and TE Vance McDonald. There will be less 22 personnel on the field than in year’s past which in turn means the tight-end position’s value will be greatly diminished.

The 49ers need a change of pace back and I sent out a tweet earlier that RB LaMike James may make his way back to SF. I see that happening.

Hi, Danny. The cornerback position needs to be addressed and if CB Vernon Hargreaves or DB Jalen Ramsey slide on draft day, the team could snatch up their services.

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.