SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Chip Kelly is fine with leaving personnel decisions to the front office, is not ready to name his starting quarterback, and really only knows how to be himself -- so he can't envision any big changes in his personality.
Those were among the admissions Kelly during his introductory news conference Wednesday at Levi's Stadium, as the 20th coach in San Francisco 49ers history was flanked by Niners general manager Trent Baalke.
"I wanted to be in a situation where I can just coach," Kelly said. "I want to just coach football and I'm excited about being with someone like Trent ... and the rest of the guys in the personnel department that when I look at this roster, again, three years ago, this team was in the Super Bowl. They have some outstanding players. They have an eye for talent."
Of course, by the time last season ended, only three players remained in their same starting roles from Super Bowl XLVIII: left tackle Joe Staley, outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks and inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman.
CEO Jed York, though, joined Kelly in trumpeting the Niners' expected salary-cap space as the third-most in the league, and Kelly talked of the team's 21 draft picks over the next two years, including an expected 12 selections this spring.
"They're prepared for the future," Kelly said, "and it's an exciting time to be here, part of that."
Kelly, though, was not so clear on whether Colin Kaepernick fits his offensive system, saying only that he met with the rehabbing QB. Kaepernick is currently recovering from surgeries to his left shoulder, right thumb and left knee, but collective bargaining agreement rules prohibit them from talking football until April 4. Even if $11.9 million of Kaepernick's salary becomes guaranteed on April 1.
"Obviously, Kap is an extremely talented football player, and you need to have a good quarterback to win," Kelly said when asked if Kaepernick made the Niners an attractive team.
"But I was also impressed in the film room watching how Blaine [Gabbert] played this year also. I think statistics will bear out you probably need two quarterbacks to win in this league with the injury rates that quarterbacks have, so I think both of those players made this an attractive situation."
Both QBs started eight games last season, with Kaepernick going 2-6 and Gabbert 3-5.
Kelly was fired by the Philadelphia Eagles one game shy of three seasons after going a combined 26-21 (with a playoff appearance in his first year).
His high-octane offense was exciting but, many critics contend, at the cost of wearing out his defense with the lowest time of offensive possession in the NFL. Kelly's tenure at the end of his Philadelphia run was also rocked by accusations that he did not relate or communicate well with players.
"I feel very, very comfortable in terms of my relationship with my players," Kelly said.
He did not say if he would continue his sports science philosophy of daily urine tests to check players' hydration levels.
"I'm not governed by the fear of what other people say," Kelly said.
Nor was Baalke, who was asked about Eagles owner Jeff Lurie's statement when Kelly was fired about the coach's "emotional intelligence." Said Baalke: "There's perception and reality, and they are two very different things."
"Obviously, [Colin Kaepernick] is an extremely talented football player, and you need to have a good quarterback to win. ... But I was also impressed in the film room watching how Blaine [Gabbert] played this year also. I think statistics will bear out you probably need two quarterbacks to win in this league with the injury rates that quarterbacks have, so I think both of those players made this an attractive situation."Chip Kelly
York added, "Chip is going to be here a long time. Period." As far as the football goes, Kelly said only one assistant from Jim Tomsula's staff had been retained thus far: running backs coach Tom Rathman. Sources told ESPN's Dianna Russini that the 49ers have offered the defensive coordinator job to Houston Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel and are awaiting his answer.
As for the reason for the six-day delay between Kelly being hired and the Niners holding an introductory news conference? Kelly had no clothes with him last week, other than the sweat suit he wore on the plane to Santa Clara for his second interview at Baalke's house. (Baalke said the first interview, a week earlier, was at Kelly's New Hampshire home, and that Kelly's golden retriever sat on Baalke's lap for most of the five-hour interview.) Kelly also wanted to be home last weekend for his father's 87th birthday.
The Niners and Kelly, out of work for 16 days, struck the four-year, $24 million deal last Thursday. Comparisons have already begun between Kelly and former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who is similarly viewed by some as tough to work with. Kelly said he had "big respect" for Harbaugh after competing against him in college and in the NFL.
"One thing that all coaches know is we rent," Kelly said. "We rent our locker spaces. We're not going to be places for extended periods of time.
"Trent has control of the 53 [-man roster], and I'm real comfortable with that," Kelly said. "I wouldn't be here if I wasn't. I think the way this personnel department is set up and how they structure things, I'm excited to be a part of it."
Even if he still has some soul-searching to do.
"I don't look at it like a self-scout," he said. "Since I got fired, it was more of an autopsy. I'm in the middle of that autopsy now."