5 Players Who Will Benefit in Chip Kelly’s Offense
By Jerod Brown
Garrett Celek-Tight End
The 49ers have approached building Chip Kelly’s roster by re-signing and extending current players. The majority of the moves that have occurred haven’t introduced new players. They have, however, given a glimpse into how general manager Trent Baalke and Kelly believe some players can succeed moving forward.
Before free agency began in early March, the 49ers made a move to secure one of their own for the next four years.
Celek showed ability in his limited play in 2015 but could be considered a valuable piece of Chip Kelly’s offense for 2016. Celek’s older brother, Brent, played for Kelly in Philadelphia for the past three seasons and has done well, despite eventually being replaced by Zach Ertz.
Brent Celek caught 32 passes for 502 yards in 2013, Kelly’s first season with the team. He also scored six touchdowns. None of those numbers are particularly impressive and would likely be the value of a second-string tight end. However, Celek’s yards per reception were 15.7 yards. That number is incredible for a tight end.
For reference, that average would’ve placed Brent behind only New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski in yards per reception average among players with at least 30 receptions in the 2015 season. That isn’t to say that Brent was or is a deep threat at tight end. But Kelly’s offense designed ways to get him open down the field. Compared to his brother, Brent is a little slower and less athletic at this later part of his career.
The Philadelphia Eagles drafted tight end Zach Ertz before the 2013 season and he has been remarkably successful in Chip Kelly’s offense. Ertz saw an increase in targets and receptions each year as he became the featured tight end. At 6’5″ and almost 250 pounds, Ertz is athletic enough to matchup against linebackers and safeties as Kelly spreads the field, stretching the defense both horizontally and vertically.
Celek is built nearly identical to Ertz–Garrett is 6’5″ and 252 pounds–and we saw how athletic he could be throughout the preseason and early games in 2015. The worries with Celek are his health, especially after a couple of injury-shortened seasons.
Chip Kelly designs an offense that immediately puts players at an advantage against defenders. The route combinations that Kelly designs force defenders into compromising coverage between two receivers. At worst, many receivers see one-on-one matchups.
Celek’s height and athletic ability make him difficult for linebackers or safeties to cover in the middle of the field. Even in Geep Chryst’s unimaginative offense, Celek made multiple catches with shallow drags and middle-of-the-field throws.
Assuming the 49ers have a quarterback that can deliver the ball accurately and on time, Garrett Celek could benefit greatly from an opportunity to breakout in Chip Kelly’s offensive system.
Next: Big Wide Receiver