Monday, August 15, 2016

Chip Kelly calls Texans' Mike Vrabel one of top assistants in NFL

Photo: Melissa Phillip, Staff | Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel turned down an offer from Chip Kelly in the offseason to become the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator.

By Aaron Wilson
August 13, 2016

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers coach Chip Kelly won a lot of recruiting battles during his tenure at Oregon as one of the most successful college football coaches in the nation.

However, Kelly was unable to talk Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel into accepting an offer to become his defensive coordinator with the 49ers.

Vrabel declined the job and remained with the Texans, receiving a raise and additional responsibilities in the process.

Regarded as a rising star in the coaching ranks with a bright future ahead of him, the former New England Patriots All-Pro linebacker is back for his third season with the Texans.

"Big fan of Mike," Kelly said during the Texans' joint practice Friday with the 49ers next to Levi's Stadium. "Obviously, had an unbelievable career in New England and then I got to know Mike a little bit when he was at Ohio State and then talking to OB [Texans coach Bill O'Brien] about what he's like to coach with. Just have all the respect in the world for him. I think he's one of the really top assistant coaches in the league right now."

Although the 49ers made Vrabel their first choice and offered him the job, he felt his top option was staying in place with the Texans. The 49ers later interviewed Texans secondary coach John Butler, who also remained with the defending AFC South champions.

"Being a young coach in this profession and in this league, it's always great to have people want to interview you for opportunities," Vrabel said. "In the end, what's best for us and me is being here."

Vrabel earned three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots.

The hard-nosed Akron, Ohio, native recorded 704 career tackles, 57 sacks, 11 interceptions and forced 17 fumbles. He doubled as a red-zone target for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as a tight end, catching 10 touchdowns on 10 career receptions.

Now, Vrabel is concentrating on helping his players get better.

That includes Texans linebacker John Simon, a former Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Year who played for Vrabel with the Buckeyes.

"To have a coach like Mike Vrabel and being able to pick his brain and know he's been in your shoes before, that's something we appreciate in that room," Simon said. "I can't get rid of him. I'm really happy he came back. I speak for everybody when I say we're excited. He brings so much to our defense that we didn't want to lose throughout our year, and I think it's going to show on Sundays."

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