Chip Kelly-Colin Kaepernick marriage terrifies defensive coaches

If Colin Kaepernick is to stay on the Niners' roster past April 1, barring a renegotiation, it'll cost the team $14.3 million in cash and $15.9 million against the cap. And we still don't know if Chip Kelly likes the dual-threat dynamo that much. But ask defensive coaches about the possibility of those two teaming up, and one word generally describes the various answers: terror.

"The fact that Kap can make guys miss and get in the open field, they didn't have that last year at all in Philly," said one defensive coordinator from a rival team. "We treated [Sam] Bradford like he was under center. There was zero threat of him running the ball. We told our guys, 'Don't treat him like he's in the shotgun, he's never gonna pull the ball.' "

Throughout last year, that changed the math that so often has favored Kelly and his vaunted run game, and allowed defenses to get in the backfield and create negative plays. The Eagles ranked first in total rushing yards and yards per carry in 2013, and 14th and 21st in those respective categories in 2015.

Put Kaepernick and Carlos Hyde (who thrived in Urban Meyer's spread in college) in the places of Bradford and DeMarco Murray, and another rival defensive coach said it should be "Awesome -- could be scary. You get the run threat back to keep the ball on zone read. ... And Kap can throw it deep. Chip stretched the field with [Nick] Foles vertically, and not as much with Bradford. ... And Kap did a good job with simple reads and progressions early in San Francisco. Chip's intermediate pass game in Philly had those features."

Another rival defensive coordinator added, "I think [Kaepernick] is a good enough passer, but obviously what'll be a nightmare is his ability to run. That offense is straight 'Freddy Krueger' when you have a quarterback that can pull the ball and run at any given time."

The bottom line is the run game is about as important to making this system work as having a great quarterback is in fueling more traditional pro systems. So now, Chip's on the clock to make a decision on Kaepernick, a player who could put juice back in that ground attack. The decision's complicated, to be sure, but the ceiling seems to be high here.

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @AlbertBreer.

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