One of the more interesting quarterback competitions heading into the 2016 NFL season is in the Bay Area, as the San Francisco 49ers have to choose between Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert.
The 49ers actually have four quarterbacks on the roster, picking Jeff Driskel in the sixth round out of Louisiana Tech, while Thad Lewis was signed in free agency. The 49ers also have a new head coach, Chip Kelly, but that doesn’t offer any information to the identity of his favorite shot caller. When Kelly arrived it looked like the Niners are happy to carry on with Kaepernick, not cutting him or anything, but after the chance to let him go for relative minimal cost past, they tried to trade him to the Denver Broncos, among other teams.
It’s weird that there’s actually a debate, considering what Kaepernick has managed to do in his career and how little Gabbert has, but it just goes to show how far Kaepernick has fallen since peaking in 2012-2013, and how difficult it’s been for him without Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman calling the shots for him. He lost his starting job midway through last season, posting the worst numbers of his career. Injury had something to do with it, but also the possible desire of the 49ers to try and move on from him.
Gabbert stepped in, going 3-5 as a starter. He completed 63.1% of his passes, threw 10 touchdown passes to 7 interceptions, and had a passer rating of 86.2. He didn’t look like the Jacksonville Jaguars expected him to when they took him 10th overall in 2011, but he looked like a better quarterback than the one who played for the Jags, and better than what Kaepernick produced in 2015.
So who should start? A former teammate of both players, Alex Boone, thinks Gabbert is the better player. According to him, Blaine did a great job last year, and from what I know of Blaine, I think he’s probably gonna take the reins. I mean I think he’s a good guy, he knows what he’s doing out there, and he just has the support of the group so I think that’s one of the things to look forward to. Boone’s words give credence to the rumors that the 49ers’ offensive line and locker room in general wasn’t happy with Kaepernick over the last two years, helping his “fall from grace”.
Like it is for almost every team, it’s open competition for the starting job in San Francisco. Whoever starts, no one is expecting too many wins from this team in 2016, maybe even worse than last year’s 5-11. It would be funny if someone as expensive as Kaepernick ends up being benched for Gabbert, more than anything showing how badly run the organization is, not really wanting to keep Kaepernick but not letting him go when it would have made sense financially.