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Sunday NFL Thoughts: Chip Kelly, Josh McDaniels, Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers, and Patriots

The Patriots and 49ers could be intertwined this offseason.

1. The San Francisco 49ers are expected to fire head coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The 49ers are interested in filling those opening with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and former Patriots vice president of player personnel and current Atlanta Falcons assistant general manager Scott Pioli, according to CBS’s Jason La Canfora.

McDaniels had previously turned down an opportunity with the 49ers because of concerns with ownership; the expected release of Chip Kelly after just one season for the sake of clearing house justifies that concern. If McDaniels and Pioli are able to join forces, both will get a clean slate and hopefully a reasonable span of time to develop a roster.

2. McDaniels would be more interested in the 49ers job than the Los Angeles Rams or Jacksonville Jaguars jobs because he won’t be stuck with an incumbent quarterback. The Rams selected Jared Goff 1st overall in the 2016 NFL draft; whoever takes over that team will have to work with Goff. The Jaguars are keeping general manager David Caldwell, who likes incumbent Blake Bortles, which would also handcuff the new coach.

The 49ers? They are expected to cut Colin Kaepernick loose and no other quarterback is under contract. The new head coach, say McDaniels, could bring in a new quarterback. How does Jimmy Garoppolo sound?

There’s no way the 49ers would send the Patriots their 1st round pick, which is expected to be a top 2 selection, but maybe a 2018 1st? A 2017 2nd and a midround pick? A 2017 2nd and a future 2nd? All of these would be fair compensation.

3. As for Chip Kelly, don’t be surprised if he surfaces with the Patriots next season. Head coach Bill Belichick has had no problems bringing in over-qualified talent in recent years. He hired McDaniels in the 2011 post-season after the Rams cut him loose, and added Mike Lombardi to the front office while Lombardi was still getting checks from the Browns.

Kelly could receive his big contract money from the 49ers and Belichick could add him as an offensive assistant, so long as Kelly is interested. And why not? Kelly probably won’t be hired for 2017 unless he takes a pay cut, so why not join a franchise that best sets him up for the future?

4. Look for Patriots tight ends coach Brian Daboll to be the top option to replace McDaniels should the above take place. Daboll was asked to run the offense in the 4th preseason game, a clear indicator that he’s the next in line. Daboll has offensive coordinator experience and should receive a fair opportunity in New England.

5. Rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell will not be playing in the season finale against the Miami Dolphins. He joins rookie CB Cyrus Jones and veteran WR Danny Amendola as confirmed as OUT.

Add in QB Jacoby Brissett, RB D.J. Foster, and OT LaAdrian Waddle as expected depth inactives and that leaves just one final player to be inactive for the finale. CB Justin Coleman and S Jordan Richards are the top options to remain inactive, with Richards as the favorite due to Jones not playing.