San Francisco 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert (2) reacts to not converting for a first down against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on September 12, 2016. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Kelly’s Niners do impossible, make Tomsula’s look better

Almost nobody in his drug-free mind believed in miracles after Chip Kelly replaced overmatched Jim Tomsula as Niners coach last spring.

As any realist knew at the time, the rebuild would be a process. It would take time to turn the 5-11 San Francisco 49ers into a competitive team, let alone a playoff contender.

But shouldn’t the Faithless expect more than the Alpo they’ve been served so far?

Three games into the season, name one area of the team that is noticeably better than a year ago. Go ahead, Balls dares ya.

(Insert dead air here.)

Where’s the spread offense that we heard so much about when Kelly came to Santa Clara? Where’s the vaunted ground game that was supposed to be his trademark …?

But let’s not forget the players, very few of whom are Kelly’s guys.

Take the first play on offense in their 37-18 meltdown against the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday, for instance. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert turned to hand the ball to Carlos Hyde, except that Hyde wasn’t there. Turns out the crowd noise was so loud, Hyde misheard the play call and lined up in the wrong spot.

Repeat: This took place on their first play of the game.

This is also about general manager Trent Baalke, the genius who assembled the roster over the years. For the most part, this is the same cast of suspects who stunk up Levi’s Stadium last season.

Seems like these Niners already have done the darn near impossible — actually made Tomsula and his bunch of sad sacks look better.

WISH YOU WERE HERE: In the meantime, here’s how much the Philadelphia Eagles miss Kelly, their former boss: After a 34-3 smackdown of the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, coach Doug Pederson’s team is off to a 3-0 start. And they’ve done it with rookie Carson Wentz at quarterback.

WRONG PLACE, WRONG TIME: Remember when Baalke bragged about the young talent on defense not long ago? About how the group would carry the team while Kelly’s offense got its feet set?

Yeah, right.

Three weeks into the season, coordinator Jim O’Neil’s group has been abused for 377.3 yards and 27.7 point per game. A year ago, Eric Mangini’s unit averaged 382.0 yards and 31.0 points in the same span — and they didn’t have the Los Angeles Rams to pad their numbers.

Baalke counted on the young guys to take their next step this season. Staked his future with the organization on it, really. Except that he signed the wrong guy to get it done. O’Neil’s final season with the Cleveland Browns was notable only for its pathetic performance, utter lack of player development and slew of square pegs in round holes.

Sign anyone connected with the Browns, and you deserve what you get.

(Editor’s note: Bill Belichick being the exception to the rule.)

DON’T SQUEEZE THE CHARMIN: O’Neil fancies himself as a rah-rah, tough-butt football coach, but he looks more like Mr. Whipple every week.

In the latest debacle, the defense wasn’t prepared from the coin flip. On the first play from scrimmage, Antoine Bethea was toasted for 34 yards down the sideline. On the second play, six (6) defenders watched Christine Michael blow past them on a 41-yard sprint to the end zone.

Seventy-five yards, six points, 43 seconds.

Ballgame. Drive home safely.

About the only thing the D accomplished was to resurrect the career of Jimmy Graham, the former Pro Bowl tight end.

NaVorro Bowman was at the Zig Zag Cafe while a wide-, wide-, wide-open Graham caught an 18-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. A short time later, Eric Reid was in position to pick off a 40-yard jump ball, only to have Graham outwrestle him for the ball. Remember, Bowman and Reid are supposed to the team leaders.

Gimme an “S”! Gimme an “O”! Gimme an “F”! Gimme a “T”!

All together now — “Saaaaahhhhffftt!”

WATSON, WE PRESUME?: Bally Bright Skies is happy to report that the news out of Santa Clara isn’t all bad, though.

The Niners kept pace with the winless Browns and Chicago Bears, their biggest challengers in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes.

The Browns nearly screwed up and beat the Dolphins in Miami before they finally came to their senses in overtime.

The Bears looked much worse in a one-sided loss against the Dallas Cowboys on the road. Not to worry. The Niners can take matters into their own hands in early December, when they visit Chicago in what promises to be a must-lose situation.

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? A compliment?! Send them to pladd@aol.com, and who knows, you may get your name in the paper before long.

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