SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Chip Kelly is the offensive-minded, experienced coach the San Francisco 49ers have long sought, and now he needs to win — right away.
The 49ers hired the Philadelphia Eagles’ former coach on Thursday, finding the man CEO Jed York is counting on to turn things around for his once-proud franchise.
Kelly faces the daunting challenge of transforming the 49ers into an immediate contender again.
Kelly, who had personnel control with the Eagles and frustrated some of his players, won’t be introduced in a news conference until next week because of his schedule.
He replaces fired coach Jim Tomsula, who was promoted from his defensive line duties last January to succeed Jim Harbaugh before going 5-11 — a move Baalke said earlier this month wound up to be the wrong one.
Kelly emerged as the favorite among several candidates with experience, including former Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, ex-New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin and former Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson, who was hired Wednesday to coach the Cleveland Browns.
The 52-year-old Kelly was fired by Philadelphia after Week 16 with one game left in his third season. The former Oregon coach was 6-9 in 2015 following two 10-6 seasons, prompting the Eagles to make a change.
Hiring the offensive-minded Kelly could give the 49ers a reason to keep Colin Kaepernick and help him work his way back into the dominant, dynamic quarterback he was a few years back with his legs and strong arm.
There has been thought that Kaepernick could be the kind of mobile quarterback Kelly likes running his fast-paced offense and a good fit.
“Guess I might have to start running right now to get in shape,” wide receiver Torrey Smith wrote on his Twitter account shortly after the announcement.
San Francisco has missed the playoffs the past two seasons, going 8-8 in 2014 in now-Michigan coach Harbaugh’s final season.
The 49ers reached three consecutive NFC championship games and a Super Bowl under Harbaugh, losing by three points to the Baltimore Ravens and Harbaugh’s older brother, John, after the 2012 season.
On Jan. 4, a day after firing Tomsula shortly after the season-finale overtime win against the St. Louis Rams, York vowed to bring the 49ers back to prominence.
“Even looking over the last few seasons, I think it’s important to learn and to grow from your mistakes. I think I understand what the fans want,” he said.
“They want a team that they can be proud of on Sundays. They want a championship team. I want that too and I’m fighting for that. You can trust me that we are going to do everything that we can to get this team back where it belongs.”
Deciding on the quarterback will be a major decision for Kelly in the coming months.
Former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert took over in November for the benched Kaepernick, who has since undergone shoulder and thumb surgeries.
Kaepernick’s $11.9 million salary for 2016 becomes fully guaranteed for injury on April 1, and there had been belief the team might try to trade him or release him.
Baalke interviewed Coughlin on Monday at an undisclosed location on the East Coast and Jackson on Sunday in Cincinnati. Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter also interviewed last Thursday in Tampa, Florida.
The coaching staff under Tomsula hadn’t been dismissed, though York said the new coach would make those decisions upon his hiring.
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