August 04, 2016 - Joe Mason
49ers to use 2-QB System Through Pre-Season
Most NFL teams name their starting quarterback prior to pre-season action. The thought is that they can get their starter plenty of first team reps through training camp and then live game action through the first couple pre-season games. Most times the starter will then play limited minutes in the final two preseason games to avoid injury. Chip Kelly and the San Francisco 49ers have a different plan. Despite being the starting quarterback for the past few seasons, Colin Kaepernick will have to earn that role again this off-season. Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert are neck and neck at this point, so much so that Kelly is splitting their reps right down the middle. Kelly plans to use a 2-QB system throughout the pre-season, in hopes of determining a starter. The pre-season plan of attack from Chip Kelly is not a good sign for Kaepernick. He seemed to lose confidence in himself last season before being benched in favor of Gabbert. And it seems he has lost the confidence from the coaching staff as well. The 49ers acknowledged Kaepernick’s lost confidence when they stated that they were benching him “to give the QB a mental break”. It is strange for a team to put that out in the open for everyone and at the same time surprising that a guy who seemed so supremely confident in his skills could lose it so quickly. The 49ers were 2-6 when they made the switch at quarterback last season. But what was bad news for the team, was good news for Kaepernick, as the 49ers only won 3 games the remainder of the season with Gabbert at the helm. Although, Gabbert did seem to give the 49ers a small boost as the starter. He kept them competitive in games down the stretch and had probably his best season to date, but was far from setting the world on fire. Over the course of his young career, Gabbert has 33 touchdowns and 31 interceptions, with a 55% completion percentage. Last year showed that Gabbert could be a serviceable starting NFL quarterback if needed. But did nothing to dispel the reality that he is better suited a solid backup. He has shown consistent mediocrity since being drafted by Jacksonville in 2011 and it’s hard to imagine him as a starter on a winning team. In the end it still seems far fetched that Gabbert ends up starting over Kaepernick; at least at the beginning of next season. Kaepernick is clearly the more naturally talented player and should get the first look as a starter, but he still has to legitimately show that he can be a consistent enough to rely upon. The 49ers showed that they were not afraid to go away from him last season and if he does not get it together, he could lose out on the job again. If it does come that, he will likely have to look for a new home next season and maybe that would be best for both parties. It would behoove the 49ers to give Kaepernick one more shot at the starting gig to see if he can regain his confidence before giving up on him all-together. After all, this is a guy who led them to a Super Bowl and two straight conference championships. But in the cutthroat and highly competitive NFL, you're only as good as your last pass..