SAN DIEGO -- San Francisco 49ers coach Chip Kelly has found himself at the center of racially-charged issues before in his tenure as an NFL head coach.
In 2013, Kelly was the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles when wide receiver Riley Cooper was seen on video shouting the N-word at security at a concert he was attending. Kelly and the Eagles kept Cooper on the team, then drew scrutiny after signing Cooper to a five-year $22.5 million contract after the season.
Now, Kelly is the man in charge of a 49ers team with quarterback Colin Kaepernick choosing not to stand up for the national anthem in an effort to draw attention to and spark conversation about racial inequality and other issues facing the country.
After Thursday's preseason finale against the San Diego Chargers, Kelly was asked if he felt like he learned something from the incident with Cooper that can help him handle the attention Kaepernick is getting.
"I don't look at it as the same. I look at it as a different deal and I think you just take every situation that comes up," Kelly said. "The one thing fortunately here, the people around our building at the 49ers, I think have done a great job of working with us in terms of how to handle the situation. I don't know if one compares to the other. I think they are two entirely different situations."
Kelly said his approach to handling delicate situations isn't a hard and fast one and requires flexibility, depending on what's going on.
"I always preach to worry about what you can control," Kelly said. "There's an event, then there's response, then there's the outcome. So what we can control is our response. So you have just got to take it the way it's dealt. It's not a 'how come this happened?' It's 'hey, this happened, what's our plan moving forward?'"
Kelly and the 49ers reacted quickly when news of Kaepernick's decision to sit during the national anthem before the team's game against the Green Bay Packers became public knowledge. The team issued a statement that Kelly echoed the following day.
"We recognize the right of any individual to choose to participate or not participate in the national anthem and so does the league," Kelly said the day after that game. "The league’s statement is they encourage them, but it’s not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem. It’s his right as a citizen."