The Philadelphia Eagles are counting on Chip Kelly to win big straight out of Oregon. However, the Eagles should know that it isn’t unprecedented for someone to go from Oregon to big NFL success. In fact, one of Kelly’s biggest stars from Oregon will soon play in the Super Bowl, after LaMichael James helped the San Francisco 49ers rally over the Atlanta Falcons on Jan. 20.
James was Kelly’s star running back and a Heisman Trophy finalist when the Ducks almost won the national championship in 2010-11. Now he is Frank Gore’s backup with the 49ers, yet James played a notable role in the 49ers winning the NFC title. In fact, James scored the first touchdown in San Francisco’s rally from an early 17-0 deficit, en route to a 28-24 victory.
James rushed for 34 yards in just five carries, while returning three kicks for 64 yards. While Gore led the 49ers’ rushing attack, on a day where Colin Kaepernick’s running game was contained, James still played a key role. As a result, he has a chance to win a Super Bowl ring in his first year after leaving Kelly and Oregon.
The Eagles hope that Kelly can make LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown as dangerous as he made James in Oregon. The mere fact that Kelly works so well with running backs is a good sign, after over a decade of Andy Reid’s often illogical pass-first attack.
Even if Kelly can’t find a mobile quarterback to run the offense, or even revive Michael Vick, he could still let McCoy and Brown carry the load while the Eagles work their quarterback problems out. At the least, he can give them more responsibility than Reid ever did.
James’ touchdown against the Falcons was his first in the NFL, according to Oregon Live. In fact, he didn’t actually get into uniform until the last several weeks of the season. His biggest impact had been as a kickoff returner, particularly when his 62-yard return in the fourth quarter set up the 49ers’ go-ahead touchdown over the New England Patriots on Dec. 16.
Despite this early Super Bowl berth, James is still just starting out in the NFL and has limited responsibilities with the 49ers. However, his former coach at Oregon has a lot more responsibility to deal with in Philadelphia.