SANTA CLARA — While many people are hopeful that former starter Colin Kaepernick will return to form, Gabbert has not missed a beat in the chemistry that he built on last season with the receivers, running backs, and tight ends. His passes have been crisp and on the money. Kaepernick, while he has hit some nice passes here and there has had trouble with ball placement. The wide receivers have had to make significant adjustments to catch some of the passes.
In the past two days, Gabbert has held the play of the day honor … training camp day 2, he hit Jerome Simpson in stride for a 40-yard bomb. He followed that up in day 3 with a bomb of equal distance to the 49ers #1 wide out, Torrey Smith.
Neither quarterback has been perfect in the sense of not throwing interceptions. Kaepernick on day 1 threw an interception to Keith Reaser and Gabbert the following day threw one to Jimmie Ward.
With all that taken in to consideration, none of the first three days hold much weight on who will be announced the starting quarterback. Consistency in the preseason games will be the primary factor in the decision on who will line up behind center Week 1 on Monday Night Football against the newly moved division rivals Los Angeles Rams.
Blaine Gabbert ended the season last year on a high note with a win against the Rams and will look to pick right back up where he let off in a win against that very same team. When Colin Kaepernick faced the Rams last season, things went really rough. Kaepernick was unable to find the endzone and the anemic offense only managed to score 6 points. In looking at each of their performances for that game, Gabbert managed to move the ball with a bit more ease than Kaepernick. In the first game against the Rams, Kaepernick was 20 of 41 and had just 162 yards … he did not throw or run one single touchdown. In Gabbert’s game against the Rams, Gabbert was significantly better in moving the chains through the air; he was 28 of 44 and had 354 yards with 1 TD.
Kaepernick struggled mightily last season against every division opponent. Gabbert kept games within striking distance. Kaepernick was 0-3 against the division and Gabbert was 1-2. Neither of those records were ideal but Gabbert managed to at least keep the 49ers in games.
The slate is wiped clean with a new coaching staff. Both quarterbacks will see time running with the first team unit. According to head coach Chip Kelly, the position will be decided during the preseason games. There have been countless players in the history of the league who have done well in practice but come game time, things would fall apart for them for whatever reason.
It is not totally out of the realm of possibility for Colin Kaepernick to turn things around. He has statistically and mentally regressed each year since appearing in the Super Bowl. His QBR has gone from 70+ in 2012, to a low 47.1 in 2015; in between those years, it has gone down with each proceeding seasons.
In very limited time, which was an extremely small sample size, Gabbert had a QBR of 92+ in his first year with the 49ers in 2014. Last season, in a more significant sample size, he actually had a lower QBR than Kaepernick but had a better passer rating.
The battle has just begun. Right now, as things stand, it appears on the surface that Gabbert is leading the way and will do so leading in to the game against Houston. Considering the amount of reps (including OTA’s) that Gabbert has had in running the offense, he will most likely start against the Texans with Kap coming in at some point in the second quarter.
The Niners will play the Texans at home on August 14th. They will hold a joint practice with them the week leading up to the game.