Both the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers would like to put last season way behind them. New head coached don’t necessarily mean new quarterbacks, with Colin Kaepernick possibly getting a lifeline with the Niners, and no one really knows what’s going on with Johnny Manziel.
Chip Kelly seems to be just the answer for Kaepernick, who looked most likely to get released or traded the moment he got benched for Blaine Gabbert in the middle of last season. Yes, there was an injury limiting him and forcing him to go into surgery, but it was quite easy to see there wasn’t a lot of satisfaction with his development (more like lack of) and progress. Kelly, who despite his season with the Philadelphia Eagles carries the reputation of being successful with mobile quarterbacks, might be the guy who can save Kaepernick’s career.
Does it need saving? Kaepernick might have a cannon for an arm, but he struggles when it comes to reading plays developing and looking past his default option. The Niners, with some success initially but in complete failure later on (with the help of the front office destroying the team, coaching staff and offensive line). He turned into something he isn’t. Seeing the success of Cam Newton and Russell Wilson combining their strengths to make it without fitting into the orthodox pocket passer mold means that the right coaching and surroundings could make Kaepernick a good NFL quarterback again. While Gabbert, who did OK in 8 games for the Niners, probably isn’t a guy you build your team around, unless the rumors of a lot of players disliking Kaepernick and preferring to play for Gabbert are true.
In Cleveland, everything points towards another dip into the talent pool the draft offers. The Browns select second, and by the looks of things, they’re not sticking with Johnny Manziel. Hue Jackson, the new head coach, hasn’t stated anything, but the rumors suggest he hopes to move on from someone who has mostly been a distraction. Who knows, maybe in a functional organization with some stability on the sidelines Manziel could have developed normally without creating some sort of scandal every other week. But the second incarnation of the Browns is everything an NFL franchise shouldn’t be, and under these conditions, both he and the Browns are just suffering.
So who starts for them next season? There is a long way from now until the draft, but Jared Goff of California looks like the number one quarterback on the board, and the only one teams see worthy of a top 5 pick. The Browns have the second overall pick and might try to see if something is available to them in free agency or through a trade – due diligence, nothing more. A new coach wants a new hope, and going with Goff (or maybe Carson Wentz) presents the best opportunity for that.