After a training camp quarterback competition that never really materialized because Colin Kaepernick was working his way back from injury, San Francisco 49ers coach Chip Kelly made the obvious choice in naming Blaine Gabbert his starter.
Of course, whenever a competition takes place, the natural assumption is that the winner will be on a shorter leash than other starters might be. While we have yet to see just how long Kelly and the Niners will go without at least taking a look at Kaepernick in a game situation, it doesn't sound like it will be happening right away.
"He's our starter and I’ve got a lot of confidence in Blaine," Kelly said. "So we're not thinking or talking about not having Blaine in there. It's about everybody on offense playing better right now."
Gabbert hasn't been great in the team's first two games. But, the other piece of the quarterback equation is Colin Kaepernick, who doesn't yet seem to be all the way back from his injuries. He reported for training camp below his normal playing weight of 225 pounds. While Kelly doesn't know Kaepernick's exact weight, he's indicated that Kaepernick isn't yet back to where he used to be, though he's making progress.
He’s the team’s top option at slot receiver – a feature role in Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense – and also will handle punt returns when the Rams visit Levi’s Stadium on Monday.
Kerley is in position to see a lot of passes. During spring and summer practices, the 49ers’ top slot receiver, Bruce Ellington, was a frequent target of quarterback Blaine Gabbert and seemed poised for a big season. He's the only player on the roster who fits Kelly’s ideal mold for a slot receiver: rabbit quick, a fast accelerator and – especially critical this week – mentally sharp.
“I think he’s a wily veteran. He’s been around,” Kelly said of Kerley. “I think having Curtis and Bob here has really helped him. But you can tell right away that Jeremy’s a pretty smart football player.”
Kerley’s best season was 2012 when he had 56 catches for 827 yards for the Jets.
Kerley is worth consideration in deep PPR formats, but he's unlikely to be a fantasy factor in most leagues.
Gabbert’s appointment was anticipated, more so from his body of work since the spring rather than any side effect of Kaepernick’s national-anthem protests for racial equality.
“It’s his whole body of work, from April until today,” Kelly said of Gabbert on a media conference call. “(With) his grasp and command of what we’re doing, he’s a good fit for what we want to get accomplished, and I have a lot of confidence in what he could do with us, offensively.”
Blaine Gabbert already had the advantage in the San Francisco 49ers quarterback competition when it came to repetitions. You could also put a check next to Gabbert's name when it came to production. Now, with one meaningless preseason game and a couple weeks of practice before the season opener, time is also on Gabbert's side.
Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick made his preseason debut in Friday night's 21-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers. In an exhibition season in which Kaepernick missed two preseason contests and nearly two weeks of practice, Kaepernick's body of work paled in comparison to Gabbert's. The prevailing outside sentiment entering Friday's game was that Kaepernick could still theoretically win the job, but he would need a big performance against the Packers to have a chance.
As you'd expect for someone playing in his first live NFL game since Nov. 8, Kaepernick couldn't muster the magic needed to get back in the mix, the story said. In just one quarter, Kaepernick was 2-of-6 for 14 yards passing with four carries for 18 yards. When Kaepernick was at the helm, the Niners managed just one first down. If Gabbert is named the starter, there's at least some fantasy streaming potential there in Chip Kelly's fast-paced offense that runs a lot of plays.
Blaine Gabbert led the 49ers’ first-team offense through the entire offseason program and has continued to build a case to win the starting job at the start of the regular season.
But the 49ers will not name the starter for the 49ers’ first game, Sept. 12 against the Los Angeles Rams, until the time is right, offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins said on Tuesday. That’s because Colin Kaepernick has not had a fair chance, he said.
“It’s not time,” Modkins said. “It’s a competition and Kap hasn’t had a chance to perform, yet. So, when that happens and when coach feels like it’s time, we’ll do that. But right now it’s not time. We’ve still got a ways to go before we play.”
Kaepernick returned to practice Monday after being out with arm fatigue. The team expects him to play Friday night against the Packers. This can be taken a couple of ways - the team is trying to be fair and give Kaepernick a chance, or, it hasn't been impressed with Gabbert to this point and really wants Kaepernick to seize the job.
49ers WR Bruce Ellington has been perhaps Blaine Gabbert's favorite target this summer, and he seems ready for big season after a series of minor injuries -- hamstring strains, ankle sprains -- slowed his development over the past two seasons.
Ellington, however, didn't practice much this week -- another ankle sprain -- and he is iffy for the Broncos game.
Ellington has risen in our rankings and is a nice late-round flier, especially in PPR formats.
Monday, August 15, 2016, 4:31pm
Quarterback Thad Lewis’ bid to serve as a 49ers backup is over because of a knee injury, a league source confirmed Monday.
Lewis suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during the third quarter of Sunday’s 24-13, exhibition-opening loss to the Houston Texans.
Lewis, one of the 49ers’ few free-agent acquisitions, figured to battle rookie Jeff Driskel for a No. 3 role this season, assuming Gabbert and Kaepernick would fill the top two slots. Driskel was 4-of-12 for 20 yards in his pro debut.
The question comes into great focus after Kaepernick sat out of practice on Friday for a second consecutive day. As a result, Gabbert took all the first-team reps in a joint practice against the Texans.
Chip Kelly said Kaepernick was dealing with soreness on his surgically-repaired left, non-throwing shoulder.
"Hopefully we can get him to play on Sunday," the 49ers coach said.
Kaepernick remained hopeful he could see the field on Sunday. In the meantime, he mirrored Gabbert and San Francisco's other quarterbacks, going through his footwork and reads during the joint practice. The sixth-year pro said he was experiencing tightness in his arm, so he's being proactive about icing his shoulder and being cautious.
Ellington was reportedly playing the slot with the first team in OTAs; it was Jordan Matthews’ position in Chip Kelly’s offense over the past two years (en route to 4.8 catches per game). Ellington’s combine scores – 4.45 40-yard dash, 3.95 20-yard shuttle, 6.69 3-cone drill – indicate elite athleticism. Kelly said he was “intrigued” by Ellington’s skill set, while Blaine Gabbert said that Ellington was “balling out” in OTAs and “catching a ton of balls.” He’s an interesting late-round flier, especially in PPR formats. It wouldn’t be shocking if he sees 100 targets as the #2 passing option in Kelly’s high-paced offense. As for Draughn, he could put a serious dent in Carlos Hyde's upside if he serves as the third-down back while Hyde is watching from the sideline.
Colin Kaepernick hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in nearly 10 months, including the final three games before his midseason benching last November.
But when he hit Jerome Simpson with back-to-back scoring strikes in Tuesday's red-zone drill, Kaepernick showed the production his new coaches will weigh most in resolving the ongoing quarterback competition with Blaine Gabbert.
Offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins, before practice, echoed coach Chip Kelly's earlier depiction of their ideal quarterback: one who excels with accuracy, decision making and the ability to lead the team.
HC Chip Kelly has yet to say whether Kaepernick or Gabbert will start Sunday's exhibition opener at home against the Houston Texans. Kaepernick and Gabbert improved their practice-field accuracy Tuesday, albeit with mostly short throws to receivers running mostly horizontal routes. Gabbert completed 10 of 12 passes in full-team drills, and Kaepernick was 8 of 11.
Thursday, August 4, 2016, 7:07pm
Each quarterback did get the ball in the end zone, Kaepernick doing so early on with a 50-yard strike to Torrey Smith. Gabbert's best pass might have been a touchdown throw to DeAndrew White, who had his best day of camp.
Kaepernick went 0 for 4 during a seven-on-seven period, capped by Jimmie Ward's interception. Offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins said before practice that Kaepernick had done well in what remains an early competition.
The 49ers' quarterback competition features two players with different styles.
"I think naturally every quarterback's skillsets are a little different," Modkins said on Thursday. "What's great is both of their skillsets are really great for our offense. We'll get to see more of their skillsets once we get further along in this camp. And when we get into the preseason games, they'll be able to show more."
One difference that appeared during the 49ers practices thus far in camp has been Kaepernick's willingness to pull the ball more on the 49ers zone read plays. Modkins said Kaepernick executing more of the quarterback runs has not been by design.
While Kelly denied that he needs a mobile QB for his offense, he hasn't really had one outside of Michael Vick in Philly, and that was for a limited time. Kelly claims he can adjust the offense to any signal caller, but it sure seems Kaepernick would be a much better fit. However, no one seems to have the edge in this battle right now.
Kaepernick had a pass intercepted in 7-on-7 drills.
Each quarterback appeared to handled a few more than their prescribed 12 snaps on the first- and second-string units in what promises to be the franchise’s most scrutinized quarterback duel in years, perhaps since Joe Montana and Steve Young 25 years ago.
Here are select quotes from Day 1 of 49ers minicamp.
Blaine Gabbert on Vance McDonald: “He’s such a great athlete. He’s smart. He does a great job in the run and pass game. He’s a guy that we have to utilize. He’s a mismatch nightmare on linebackers. And you really kind of saw that jump Week 8 on last year. He did a great job, stayed healthy and had some good plays.”
Tight ends coach Jeff Nixon on Vance McDonald: “The sky is the limit for Vance. He’s very talented. He has the size and the speed. I think most of his drops sometimes are a little bit of a lack of concentration, because he does have good hands. But I’m expecting a big year out of Vance. He finished up the year strong. I think the last three or four games he had at least five catches in each of those games. We’re looking for him to take off right from where he left off last year, being a big-play tight-end target for us in the pass game.”
Over his final six games, McDonald averaged 3.5 catches for 44 yards and 0.5 touchdowns, which made him the #8 TE in PPR formats in that span. It appears that he'll start for the 49ers, and if he's able to stay healthy, he should be streamable in 2016.
“Our style and scheme adapts to whoever it is,” Kelly added, “but he certainly has the skillset to be an outstanding running back at this level, because he can do everything.”
“You’re looking for a guy that can be a three-down back, and that’s what Carlos is,” Kelly said.
Kelly’s high-tempo offense figures to lean heavily on Hyde, assuming he’s durable enough to lead an offense that’s still unsure whether Blaine Gabbert will outlast Colin Kaepernick for the starting quarterback role.
Hyde was the #14 RB (PPR) through the first six weeks before missing the rest of the season with a foot injury. Chip Kelly's teams in Philadelphia had an average ranking of 7.3 in total rush attempts, so Hyde should get plenty of work as the team's lead back, provided they can stay competitive on game day.
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