SAN FRANCISCO—On Wednesday, December 7, San Francisco 49ers Coach Chip Kelly expressed his lack of interested in returning to the University of Oregon to coach the Oregon Ducks. Kelly was Oregon’s head coach from 2009-2012, finishing with a 46-7 record. He also led the Ducks to the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, where they lost to Auburn University.
According to 247Sports, South Florida coach Willie Taggart has replaced Mark Helfrich, who was fired on December 6, as the head coach of the Ducks.
Helfrich signed an $11.6 million contract with Oregon, coaching the Ducks for four seasons from 2013-2016. Helfrich leaves Oregon with an overall record of 37-16. In 2014, he led the team to the first college football playoff championship game. The Ducks went 4-8 this season; their first losing season since 2004.
Kelly shared with the media that he “loves Mark [Helfrich] like a brother.” He also said that he spoke to Helfrich on Wednesday, extending support.
“[He] is a tremendous person. He is a hell of a football coach but he’s even a better person. So I just felt for him and the rest of the guys on that staff. It’s an unfortunate thing that goes on in this profession, we all know when we sign up for it, but when it happens you’re still kind of taken aback by it,” said Kelly.
Despite his sympathy for Helfrich and those associated with the Oregon Ducks, Kelly discussed his commitment to the 49ers and explained he has “never left a job with games left to play,” which his father inculcated in him. He also asserted that he is “still happy in San Francisco.”
“When I’ve said that I’m not going back to college, there’s never going to be an opportunity for me to go back to college, because I have a job. I will not leave a team with three games to go because I have a bigger, better deal somewhere. That’s not the way I’m wired, and that’s not what I would ever do. I could never look Antoine Bethea or Joe Staley in the face again and talk to them about commitment if I was the guy that had a job that was offered that I thought was better than the one I had and I took off on them with three games to go. That’s just not the way I’m wired. I think some guys do it. I would never do it,” said Kelly to 247 Sports.
“I’ve always felt that the reporters that cover me were so intelligent that they would understand what I was saying. Then I learned that it’s probably my fault for not telling the exact point. I will never leave my job. I never have in the past, and I’m not going to leave my job if I still have games to coach. That’s what my deal is. I have a commitment,” Kelly told 247 Sports.
Kelly has not spoken to anyone at the Oregon Ducks organization except for Helfrich.