With or without Colin Kaepernick on the team’s payroll next season, the San Francisco 49ers are going to start Blaine Gabbert at quarterback in 2016.
Since becoming the team’s starter in week 9, Gabbert has been getting more and more endorsements from his teammates, and while the 49ers haven’t given up on keeping Kaepernick on the team, the job is Gabbert’s to lose right now, especially with his salary being about five times smaller than that of Kaepernick, who won’t stay on the team unless he takes a massive pay cut.
Obviously, nothing is promised. For all the excitement about the 49ers going 2-2 since Gabbert took over, he hasn’t been that good. The thing is that he looks a lot better than he did for the Jacksonville Jaguars, showing he can learn from sitting on the bench, and also from playing in one of the worst franchises in the NFL.
Gabbert is completing 63% of his passes for 963 yards, 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He has a passer rating of 89.5, which is great compared to his past and is sacked on only 5.9% of the plays. Compare that to the 8.7% through 27 start for the Jags, and it’s obviously he and the 49ers are excited about what he can do, suddenly looking like a legitimate starter, even without playing behind the best offensive line or with the best wide receivers.
Anquan Boldin, still playing if you’ve forgotten, has nothing but good things to say about Gabbert: Blaine matured from having his struggles in Jacksonville. He’s had time to sit back and really learn. I think him coming over here has been a blessing in disguise for not only him but us as well. You’ve seen him the last couple of weeks. He’s been playing lights out. Gabbert can be a starter here because quarterbacks don’t play the way that he’s been playing just by luck.
Kaepernick is rehabbing from his surgery and probably trying to send feelers out to see what the league thinks of him. The 49ers, as we’ve mentioned, are open to bringing him back, but with Gabbert playing the way he has in his second (and maybe last) chance in the NFL, the best thing Kaepernick can hope for is being a back in San Francisco next season, for a lot less money than he’s making now.