Michael Vick deal with Eagles follows blueprint


Two Januaries ago, Alex Smith's star-crossed San Francisco 49ers future had reached a dead end, only to see new coach Jim Harbaugh provide an avenue for Smith's unlikely return. Faced with a weak 2011 draft class and sparse free-agent market, Harbaugh opted to let the cereberal Smith run his offense while maintaining continuity and avoiding a full-blown rebuilding project.

It wasn't long before another hand-picked quarterback was leading him to the Super Bowl.

New Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly appears to be following the Harbaugh blueprint with the restructuring of Michael Vick's contract.

Kelly has spent the past few weeks bunkered down in the film room studying Vick and Nick Foles. Now staring at that same bleak quarterback landscape in free agency and the draft, Kelly has decided to stay with the devil he knows.

Vick might be in decline, but he still possesses the unique athleticism to thrive as the mobile quarterback in Kelly's up-tempo spread offense. With the offensive line returning to health and the explosive LeSean McCoy/Bryce Brown tag-team in the backfield, Kelly can keep a tighter leash on Vick while protecting him from injury.

Vick is recognizing a prime opportunity when he sees it. He's had his eyes on Kelly's offense since December.

The Eagles have enough talent on their roster for a quick turnaround at a playoff run. At the very least, the capable Vick-Foles combo buys Kelly a season until he hand-picks his own Colin Kaepernick.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.