The San Francisco 49ers entered their bye week the worst run-stopping team in the NFL. They emerged on Sunday looking like they made little-to-no progress fixing their problems over the break.
Head coach Chip Kelly offered few solutions on Monday when pressed for a plan to halt the trend.
“I don’t think overall the entire group is playing good as a group,” he said. “There’s too many big plays that are occurring on the defensive side of the ball in terms of allowing big runs and we’ve got to do a better job of that.”
He remained determined to not blame defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil for a run defense that is on pace to be one of the worst of all time.
Kelly spread the blame across all of the coaching staff and players. The execution isn’t there, he said, but the effort is. Framing it as such indicates a personnel or teaching problem. The Niners head coach didn’t confirm or deny it was the latter causing problems.
“I don’t think there’s one person responsible for what has transpired on the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “I think there’s all of us have contributed to that.”
And so it goes for the 1-8 49ers, who are now eliminated from the playoffs — a mere formality.
A silver lining
Kelly said running back DuJuan Harris impressed him on Sunday, when he totaled 142 yards and a touchdown.
“We’ve been really trying to look for that other running back with Carlos [Hyde] and I think looking at DuJuan’s play yesterday, did a nice job in terms of not only the run, but the pass,” Kelly said. “He had a real good game catching the ball coming out of the backfield, but also did a really nice job I thought running the football and keeping us productive, so we weren’t just a one-dimensional football team.”
If Hyde can return to full health and perform as he’s capable, the 49ers could have a better than league average attack out of the backfield — which, if that’s the only thing the Faithful can take out of this loss season (plus a high draft pick), wouldn’t be horrible.
Read Chip’s lips: He’s not going back to college
Kelly made his name at the college level, and the rumors that he’s going to get a big offer to return won’t relent.
But that’s not Kelly’s doing, he insists.
“I haven’t talked to a college since I’ve been in the NFL and that’s not my goal,” he said. “My goal is to be the head coach of the 49ers and that’s what I want to do. So, I don’t know why that’s a new, it surprises me that that continues to be a new story.”
But what about those visits by Nike chairman and University of Oregon bankroller Phil Knight?
“I have a lot of friends that come to games, but no one writes stories about them,” Kelly said.