Chip Kelly knows there isn't a magical fix for this team. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Chip Kelly and the edge of despair

There’s no easy fix for the 1-6 San Francisco 49ers.

They have the worst defense in the league, surrendering 31.3 points per game, and a last-place offense that’s generating fewer than 300 total yards each time it’s taken the field.

That could be why, despite coming off a bye week — which typically inspire hope — head coach Chip Kelly lacked for answers on how to improve the squad.

He blamed a lack of consistency, a nebulous diagnosis of an inability to execute. When pressed, he declared that he is “not in the excuse business.”

“You are what you are and our record right now tells us what we are,” he said. “That’s what we are.”

That is not a sparkling midseason performance review.

So what could turn around the team’s current state of affairs? Perhaps a shakeup to the depth chart would alter the team’s course?

“You’ve seen all of those guys,” Kelly said, noting he’s played nearly everyone on the roster. “It’s not, I don’t think there’s a, ‘Hey, we need to insert this guy into our lineup because we haven’t given him an opportunity.’ I think everybody has had an opportunity to play at this point in time.”

There are moments that are crucial for evaluating coaches: In basketball, it’s how they run a play after a timeout; in football, it’s how a group improves after its bye week.

And that doesn’t mean the Niners need to return to action and set the NFL on fire. That won’t happen.

But they could make some incremental improvements that should assuage at least a fraction of the Faithful’s dread.

This week, against a bad New Orleans defense (31st in the league, ahead of only the 49ers), it would be reasonable to expect arguably the best football team in Santa Clara to move the ball with a little more success and score more than 21 points for the first time since Week 2.

There are a handful of winnable games remaining on this team’s schedule. The utilitarian would argue in favor of tanking for the No. 2 overall pick. But that isn’t how coaches and players are wired.

Kelly has some young talent — not a lot, but some — ensuring they get into winning habits, despite the outcomes, is imperative at this point.

Otherwise he runs the risk of being another one-and-done Niners coach as the team, and its fans, remain mired in a state of despair.

Chip KellySan Francisco 49ers

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