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Bill O'Brien, Chip Kelly: Friends for over 20 years

Chip Kelly and Bill O'Brien are two NFL coaches who have been friends for over 20 years.

"I think he's outstanding," Kelly said Friday. "We've kept in touch wherever he's been, whether it was at Georgia Tech, I had opportunities when I was at New Hampshire to go visit him there. When he took over as the quarterbacks coach at the Patriots and I was at Oregon, I would always come back in the summertime and spend time with OB just talking football."

During his time at New Hampshire, Kelly also met Texans tight ends coach John Perry. Meanwhile, O'Brien coached with 49ers offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins and defensive assistant Shane Bowen.

"We just kind of ran in the same circles," Kelly said of O'Brien. "But, we are kindred spirits."

O'Brien laughed.

"He's older than me so he knows bigger words than I do," O'Brien said. "We both grew up in the Northeast so we have a lot in common that way. We believe in a similar type of football, smart players, guys that love the game. We both have really good coaching staffs."

The 49ers head coach was effusive in his praise for O'Brien's approach to the game, referring to his friend as a tough guy.

"I think his teams reflect his personality," Kelly said. "There's a toughness to any team that he's coached and I think it shows when you see his teams play on the field."

The respect was mutual.

It's why O'Brien wanted to practice against Kelly's team this week, heading into Sunday's preseason game.

"He's a great coach, very, very bright guy, has a very quick mind, good sense of humor, great relationships with his players, and he really understands the game," O'Brien said. "Anytime you can pair up with a team like that, you're going to get a lot of work done because there's a lot of ideas, a lot of creativity that goes into planning that practice. It was really good."

The Texans wrapped up their joint practice with the 49ers on Friday in Santa Clara. The two teams will face each other in their preseason opener on Sunday at Levi's Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on ABC-13 and SportsRadio610.

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