Colin Kaepernick might not get a chance to play this year for the San Francisco 49ers if the latest report about his rival, Blaine Gabbert, prove to be true.
“Gabbert has a good grasp of coach Chip Kelly’s offense, and many in the organization see him as a better fit than Kaepernick, whose passing acumen has been questionable at times,” writes Michael Wagaman of ESPN.
On one hand, this feels like a case of “what have you done for me lately?” based on how Kaepernick has seemingly regressed the past couple of seasons. After all, this is a quarterback that took the 49ers to two straight NFC title games, winning one, and who was one missed opportunity away from winning a Super Bowl.
On the other hand, it’s not a huge stretch to think that Gabbert could actually be a better fit for Kelly’s offense in San Francisco.
Kelly’s system makes excellent use of a mobile quarterback who can burn defenses with his legs as well as his arm.
Kaepernick would seem to be a perfect fit on the surface. His ability to make plays with his arm and legs has never been in question.
But his accuracy has been, and rightly so. This isn’t just a matter of completion percentage, either. It’s a matter of placing the ball in the right spots on time, which has always been a huge issue for the dual threat passer.
Making things more interesting as it relates to the upcoming quarterback competition is the fact that Gabbert is actually quite a phenomenal athlete in his own right. Back in 2011 when he came out of Missouri, he was just three-hundredths of a second slower than Cam Newton and 11-hundredths of a second slower than Kap.
Gabbert is also much more comfortable in the pocket than Kaepernick and is more adept at placing the ball into his receivers’ hands on time, in stride, which are hallmarks of Kelly’s offense on the passing side.
There is still a chance that Kaepernick emerges victorious in the upcoming battle this summer. If he can get his accuracy issues handled, then he’s the prototypical Kelly quarterback and could become a league superstar once again. Perhaps his work this summer to improve vision will help (more on that here).
But for now, Gabbert has the edge heading into training camp, per Wagaman. He is viewed by many in the locker room as the man for the job and has more confidence than he’s had at any point in his NFL career. Jerry Rice even thinks Gabbert is hot stuff.
This is going to be one of the hottest training camp battles to follow in 2016. Stay tuned for more news and rumors on this front, as we’ll be watching with interest.