SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) – It was with a heavy heart that San Francisco 49ers coach Chip Kelly returned to work on Wednesday.
Just 24 hours after attending his father Paul Kelly’s funeral in Maine, Kelly was back in front of reporters, talking this time about a personal loss.
“I think you’re just really thankful for the time we had with him,” the 49ers head coach said. “He lived a vibrant and long life, 87 years. He touched a lot of people in his life and it was evident to us yesterday when we had the funeral how many people came and expressed their condolences and reached out.”
Kelly said what he will remember most about his father was his sense of humor.
“I don’t have any sense of humor compared to my dad,” he fondly recalled. “I think he was special in that manner. He just had a zest for life. He was one of the happiest people you ever met. I think he really just enjoyed what he did.”
“He was a lifelong learner,” Kelly continued. “He had a thirst for knowledge and an insatiable appetite for information and he was just always fun to be around. He tried to show that and he really did.”
It’s been a tough year for Kelly. The 49ers are 1-10 and have lost 10 straight games. But through it all, his father’s support never wavered. Even in his final gesture.
“He actually got buried in 49ers gear,” Kelly said. “He did not want to wear a suit in the coffin. He wore a suit for his whole career as a trial lawyer, but he wanted to wear a 49ers sweat suit when he passed away.”
Kelly says he’s also gotten comfort and support from this players. It’s what helping him cope.
“It’s difficult, but I’m not the first person to lose a loved one,” he said “I think it’s an unfortunate part of everybody’s life. Part of it, when I talk to our players about it on Saturday, there were so many players on our team that have lost loved ones. Jeremy Kerley lost a brother. Torrey Smith lost a brother. Spent some time with them and talked to them about how they dealt with it.”
Now, he says like everyone who loses a loved one – it’s time to begin to move on.
“It’s what you have to do and I think that’s how you honor them is to move on,” Kelly said. “You can think about the good times and gain strength from it to be honest with you.”