San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula confirmed Colin Kaepernick will be benched in favor of backup Blaine Gabbert during Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.
The first-year coach explained the decision, explaining it was a chance for the beleaguered quarterback to “step back and breathe and look at things through a different lens.”
Tomsula also stood up for Kaepernick, though. He said the blame for the team’s dreary season doesn’t rest solely on the quarterback.
“I felt like this was the direction we needed to go. In no way is 2-6 all on Colin Kaepernick. That’s on all of us,” Tomsula said via Kevin Patra of NFL.com. “This is a guy I think has talent … I just want him to step back, keep working.”
After Tomsula stood behind Kaepernick just a couple of weeks ago, but NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport noted Monday that Kaepernick faced a locker room split where the dysfunction could no longer by tolerated.
The Niners are long gone from the roster that appeared in the 2013 Super Bowl. Since then, Kaepernick has regressed, spiraling into his terrible performance this season.
However, San Francisco switching gears to start an inferior backup is the ultimate slap in the face. Gabbert’s NFL career consists of five wins to 22 losses, while his passer rating of 66.1 is the lowest in the NFL since 2011.
Perhaps the benching will be temporary, an opportunity for Kaepernick to regroup and catch his breath, like Tomsula said. In the meantime, though, fans shouldn’t expect much from Gabbert, who failed with the Jacksonville Jaguars after being a first-round pick.