SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- It’s no secret the San Francisco 49ers will have an obvious and decidedly new look on offense with Chip Kelly as coach. Offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins expects to have an impact as well, especially in the running game that suffered a big drop-off in 2015.
San Francisco was 21st in the NFL in rushing at 96.5 yards a game with an offense that had all sorts of problems last season. Frank Gore, considered the heart and soul of the team’s offense, left and signed with Indianapolis before the season, and his heir apparent, 2014 second-round pick Carlos Hyde, missed the final nine games with a foot injury.
Kelly, the former Eagles coach, was hired after the 49ers finished 5-11 and fired Jim Tomsula after one season.
Though much of the new look will be centered around the up-tempo passing game that could feature as many as five receivers going downfield, the 49ers want to improve their rushing attack, which ranked no lower than fourth from 2012-2014.
Enter Modkins, the longtime offensive assistant and a one-time offensive coordinator with the Buffalo Bills whose main duty will be upgrading the ground attack while blending it with Kelly’s high-octane approach.
"It’s been pretty easy, because there are some base philosophies that I’ve always kind of been around or that I’ve always wanted to be around," Modkins said. "Being able to run the ball out of a one-back set (has) been something that we’ve been pretty good at in the past where I’ve been, and there’s some things that Chip has done in the past that we’re kind of meshing together.
"The thought process of one, being able to run it and that being important and how you run it, kind of spreading people out to do that ... it’s been easy. We want this to be the 49ers' offense, not necessarily where he came from or where I come from."
Modkins said he and Kelly will work in conjunction during the week, and noted Kelly will handle the play-calling duties on game days. Modkins will watch and offer his input from the coaches’ booth upstairs.
"I’m sure there will be dialogue in between series," Modkins said. "I’m sure he’ll be receptive to that. Chip will call the plays, and he’s been great at it."
Modkins coached Reggie Bush to a 1,000-yard season in 2013 with the Lions, who were much more methodical on offense. With the 49ers, the offense will move at an accelerated pace that has been a staple of Kelly’s offenses, both in the NFL and in college.
"My first year in Detroit we had the ability to do it, but we didn’t do it as much as how we live here, the world we live in here," Modkins said. "This is a very unique system, and it’s been great to be a part of."