In the end, Chip Kelly chose the NFL, giving the Eagles their guy.
Philadelphia hired Kelly on Wednesday, just 10 days after he decided to stay at Oregon. The 49-year-old Kelly, known as an offensive innovator, becomes the 21st coach in team history and replaces Andy Reid, who was fired Dec. 31 after a 4-12 season.
The Chicago Bears also filled their vacancy, reaching into the Canadian Football League by hiring Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman to replace the fired Lovie Smith.
Kelly, who was 46-7 in four years at Oregon, interviewed with the Eagles, Browns, and Bills in a two-day span after leading the fast-flying No. 2 Ducks to a victory over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3. The Eagles are known to have interviewed 11 candidates, including two meetings with Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. All along, Kelly was thought to be Philadelphia’s first choice.
“Chip Kelly will be an outstanding head coach for the Eagles,’’ owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. ‘‘He has a brilliant football mind. He motivates his team with his actions as well as his words. He will be a great leader for us and will bring a fresh energetic approach to our team.’’
The enigmatic Kelly reportedly was close to signing with the Browns after a long interview Jan. 4. He met with the Eagles for nine hours the next day. But the pursuit of Kelly ended when he opted to remain — temporarily — in Eugene, Ore.
‘‘It’s a very difficult decision for me. It took me so long to make it just because the people here are special,’’ Kelly told a Eugene, Ore., television station. ‘‘The challenge obviously is exciting for me, but it’s an exciting time and it’s a sad time — saying goodbye to people you love and respect.’’
Kelly built Oregon into a national powerhouse. The Ducks went to four straight BCS bowl games — including a bid for the national championship against Auburn two seasons ago — and have won three Pac-12 championships. Kelly originally went to Oregon in 2007 as offensive coordinator under Mike Bellotti. Before that, he was offensive coordinator at New Hampshire, where he started devising the innovative hurry-up offense the Ducks are known for now.
Kelly and the Eagles, who have won just 12 games the last two seasons, have the No. 4 overall pick in the draft as well as some talented players on offense who could fit his up-tempo scheme. Running back LeSean McCoy and receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin seem like an ideal match. Quarterback Nick Foles, however, isn’t.
‘‘I’ve never run the zone read,’’ Foles said after the season. ‘‘I’m more of a dropback guy. I’ve been under center. I’ve been in the gun. If I can adapt, I want to. But I’m not a zone-read quarterback.’’
On the other hand, Michael Vick could be perfect. But it’s unlikely the Eagles would want to pay the $16 million they’d have to shell out for an injury-prone quarterback, who will be 33 next season.
How Trestman meshes with quarterback Jay Cutler could go a long way toward determining his success with the Bears. It’s his first head coaching job in the NFL. He was a longtime assistant in the league who spent the past five seasons coaching the CFL’s Alouettes and led them to two Grey Cup titles. Trestman, 57, was an offensive coordinator with Cleveland, San Francisco, Arizona, and Oakland.
Trestman wasted little time starting to assemble his staff. Chicago hired Saints line coach Aaron Kromer as its line coach and offensive coordinator and Dallas’s Joe DeCamillis as its assistant head coach and special teams coordinator. Kromer, who served as the Saints’ head coach for six games this season while interim coach Joe Vitt was suspended for his role in the bounty scandal, will try to revive a unit that often sputtered with Mike Tice calling the plays.
‘‘He’s been successful wherever he’s been,’’ Cutler told the Bears’ website. ‘‘He’s from the West Coast coaching tree, which I’m familiar with. It’s what I came into the league with, with [Mike] Shanahan [with the Broncos in 2006], so I’m looking forward to it.’’
Abraham hopes to play
It’s too early for the Falcons to know how much defensive end John Abraham will play in Sunday’s NFC title game against the 49ers.
Abraham, the NFL’s active sacks leader, made it through just 15 snaps in last week’s divisional playoff victory over Seattle before aggravating a left ankle injury that forced him to leave in the second quarter.
Coach Mike Smith said that he expects the 13-year veteran to start Sunday. Even so, the Falcons are giving reserve ends Cliff Matthews, Jonathan Massaquoi, and Lawrence Sidbury more work this week in case Abraham has to make an early exit.
Bevell talks to Cardinals
The Cardinals, one of two NFL teams still looking for a head coach, interviewed Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and plan to talk to the Colts’ Bruce Arians . . . The Browns hired a pair of executive vice presidents, filling out their front office under new owner Jimmy Haslam. Sashi Brown, formerly of the Jaguars, was hired as executive VP and general counsel and Brent Stehlik will be an executive VP and chief revenue officer. Stehlik was with baseball’s San Diego Padres the past three seasons . . . The Seahawks signed former Holy Cross cornerback Chandler Fenner to a future contract . . . Giants quarterback Eli Manning will replace Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers on the NFC roster for the Pro Bowl.