San Francisco 49ers

49ers coach Chip Kelly clear on QB’s most important attribute

New San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly catches a football on the field at Levi Stadium Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif.
New San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly catches a football on the field at Levi Stadium Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. AP

Sure, Chip Kelly’s ideal quarterback might have massive hands, broad shoulders and be able to outrun the fastest inside linebackers in the league.

But when it comes to body parts, the new 49ers head coach made it clear he’s most interested in the cerebral cortex.

“I think first and foremost he’s got to be a great decision maker,” Kelly said last week at the scouting combine in Indianapolis. “That’s the most critical factor in everything he does. And I think the ones that are best in this game all come in different shapes and sizes. You can look at Russell Wilson or Tom Brady – one’s 5-10 and the other’s 6-5. (Brady is listed as 6-4). But they’re both outstanding decision makers. They don’t put the ball in harm’s way.”

Getting inside a quarterback’s head will be difficult until the 49ers’ offseason program begins on April 4.

Kelly stressed – repeatedly – that league rules prevent him from talking shop with his players until the offseason program starts. And as far as reviewing game film, Kelly said he’s reserving judgment on a player’s decision-making ability because he doesn’t know which plays were called in certain instances or how his players were previously coached.

So he looks at film of his 49ers pupils to assess what they can do physically.

“What’s their skill set?” Kelly said. “Can they throw an intermediate out route? Can they throw a deep ball against the rush?”

He’s likely to have similar limitations in the run-up to the draft, though he’ll at least be able to talk football with his favorite prospects.

Teams can interview college players at all-star games, at the combine, at their pro days and during the team-facility visits that begin at the end of the month. Kelly went on the road for a number of pro-day workouts and interviews when he coached the Eagles.

If Kelly is keen on quarterbacks who don’t put the ball in “harm’s way,” the touchdown-to-interception ratio might be one of the measures he’ll take into account.

Here are the career touchdown-to-interception ratios for some of the top passers in the draft:

Connor Cook: 71 TDs vs. 22 INTs, 30.9 percent

Carson Wentz: 45-14, 31.1

Jared Goff: 96-30, 31.3

Dak Prescott: 70-23, 32.5

Kevin Hogan: 75-29, 38.6

Paxton Lynch: 59-23, 38.9

Christian Hackenberg: 48-31, 64.5

Lynch’s 28-4 ratio during the 2015 season was the best out of the group above, followed by Prescott, Wentz, Cook, Hogan, Goff and Hackenberg.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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