SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Despite San Francisco 49ers coach Chip Kelly's repeated statements that he intends to continue coaching the 49ers and has no interest in returning to college, the rumors have persisted.
Over the weekend, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter debunked the latest round of Kelly rumors in a report citing sources close to Kelly as saying that his public proclamations about staying in the NFL are legitimate.
On Monday, Kelly was asked if that report was accurate.
“It’s always been accurate," Kelly said, pointing to his previous answers to the college questions. "And I don’t have any representatives that are telling anybody anything. I haven’t talked to a college since I’ve been in the NFL and that’s not my goal. 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. It’s been the same story since I left four years ago. So, I’m not looking to go back and that’s what I’ve always said. So, I don’t know why it’s still a story.”
Of course, rumors such as the Kelly-back-to-college ones are bound to pop up considering the landscape. Kelly's Niners are 1-7 and don't appear to be anywhere close to competing for a championship while desirable college jobs such as LSU, Oregon, Texas and USC are either already open or could be open soon. Kelly enjoyed his greatest coaching success at Oregon, where he was 44-5.
Still, Kelly has been clear and adamant that he doesn't intend to go back to school and wants to see through the four-year contract he signed with the 49ers in January.
Kelly has thus far been unable to match the success he had in college in the NFL but seems to want to continue trying to get it done at the game's highest level.
"I didn’t have any opportunities at any other level [last year]," Kelly said. "This is what I looked at when I was out, but there was nothing at that time, either. I think when you get done in the NFL season, when we get done in late January, there’s really not any jobs open at the college level. So, I would have taken anything. I would have loved to take a job at a newspaper or media or anything.”
Kelly, of course, is joking about the newspaper job, but he's been unable to vanquish the speculation. It didn't help matters that he hosted Nike founder and noted Oregon booster Phil Knight at the team's Oct. 23 game against Tampa Bay.
“Phil’s come to my games in Philly and it wasn’t a story," Kelly said. "Phil’s a great friend of mine. So, the fact that a friend of mine came to watch one of my games, when we played the San Francisco 49ers with the Philadelphia Eagles, he came to the game here. That wasn’t a story when I was coaching in Philadelphia. So, I don’t know. I have a lot of friends that come to games, but no one writes stories about them."
For obvious reasons, Kelly would prefer the rumors to stop so he can focus on trying to turn around a season that's already lost.
“That’s my job and that’s what I’m here to do and that’s all I’ve ever tried to do," Kelly said. "Whatever job I have, that’s the job I want and that’s the job I’m going to do. So, that’s the way I’ve always been. I just don’t know why, I’m surprised it keeps coming up. I don’t know why it keeps coming up.”