Mark it down: Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016 -- the day Colin Kaepernick's career in San Francisco began anew.
There are no guarantees in the NFL, nor in life, but here's what we can say with some confidence: If anyone can resurrect Kaepernick's career, it's his new head coach. I know that's the easy and convenient analysis after Chip Kelly's hiring by the 49ers, but in this case, there are too many connected dots to ignore.
In short, Kelly teaches and runs an offense that highlights the skills Kaepernick displayed when he was at his best in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. During that stretch, including 29 games in the regular season and six in the playoffs, Kaepernick ran for 1,446 yards.
As the first chart shows, Kaepernick averaged more yards per carry than Russell Wilson or Cam Newton. He also proved to be an accurate and efficient passer, posting the NFL's ninth-highest QBR during that period.
There is no doubt that Kaepernick's passing performance slid noticeably the past two seasons, whether it was under former offensive coordinator Greg Roman or 2015 playcaller Geep Chryst. But in three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Kelly has proved adept at maximizing the talents of players far less skilled than Kaepernick.
Nick Foles threw 40 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions in 21 starts for Kelly in 2013 and 2014. Traded in the offseason to the St. Louis Rams, he bombed and was eventually benched in favor of backup Case Keenum.
Mark Sanchez completed nearly 65 percent of his passes under Kelly during the past two seasons after arriving in Philadelphia with a career completion rate of 55 percent. And in the second half of last season, Sam Bradford -- a career 58.7-percent passer before this season -- completed 68.2 percent of his passes in Kelly's scheme. In other words, Bradford was the NFL's third-most-accurate passer after Week 8 last season.
This is not to say that Kaepernick will simply step into Kelly's offense and be the dynamic, dual-threat quarterback that he was earlier in his career. Benched this season in favor of Blaine Gabbert, Kaepernick still has plenty to learn about reading defenses and scanning route options.
But it's hard to imagine an offense or a coach who will put him in a better position to do what comes naturally than Kelly. The second chart shows that when the Eagles had a running threat at quarterback during the past three seasons, they threw less and ran more effectively. That's the type of system that Kaepernick has a history of succeeding in.
In the end, we have a quarterback who can run as well as any in the NFL in a system that encourages it. And we have a coach who, despite criticism he has received and deserved in other areas, has proved he can make pro-level quarterbacks more efficient. It's not a slam dunk, but it's the closest it can be these days in the imperfect world of being a quarterback in the NFL.
-- Jacob Nitzberg of ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this story.