For the second time in four years, Colin Kaepernick is primed to steal the starting quarterback job from someone who already has it. However the circumstances are slightly different the second time around.
In 2012 the starting quarterback of the 49ers was Alex Smith. He suffered a concussion halfway through the season, and was forced to sit out a game. His backup, Colin Kaepernick, came in and played absolutely lights out. Eventually, head coach Jim Harbaugh made the controversial decision to keep Kaepernick as his starter.
The unpopularity of the decision stemmed from the fact that the 49ers were winning. Smith had led the 49ers to the NFC Championship the year before, and were 6-2 at the time of his injury.
In 2016 the starting quarterback of the 49ers is Blaine Gabbert. He’s started 11 games for the 49ers and has gone 4-7. After another disastrous outing against the Seattle Seahawks, Gabbert’s days as the starter may be numbered.
However, even if head coach Chip Kelly wanted to make a change, he may not be physically able to.
Kelly is singing a different tune this week than he was last week.
Last week, Kelly gave a vote of confidence in Gabbert as the starting quarterback.
Now a sliver of doubt is beginning to creep in.
Before anyone crucifies Kelly for not making the switch at quarterback quickly, it’s important to understand the consequences of each route.
Kelly has fans whispering in one ear and 49er management in the other.
Kaepernick reportedly requested a trade during the off-season, and it went as far as a sit down dinner with John Elway to try to work out a trade.
The 49ers may want to keep the trade doors open to tryand get his contract off their books. To do that, they need to keep his trade value up.
If Kaepernick goes out and plays how he did in 2015, his value will plummet.
More than trade value, the 49ers are worried about Kaepernick’s injury settlement. If he plays and gets injured, the team will owe him $14.5 million.
The situation isn’t black and white, and it’s not an easy decision for anyone.
Regardless of who starts for the team, the 49ers are going to lose games. The fact of the matter is that they aren’t a good team. Just like in 2015, the first game of the season was fool’s gold.
All of the internet, 49er fans are clamoring for Kaepernick just because of how bad Gabbert has been. They’re displaying the trademark short memory of sport fans.
Reading some of these things fans are saying is surreal. It’s as if they don’t remember how Kaepernick looked just a year ago. And now he’s coming off surgery and a lengthy hiatus from football. Hell, he didn’t even look good against second and third stringers in the preseason.
The main argument being thrown out is that Kaepernick had Jim Tomsula and Geep Chryst dragging him down while Eric Pears, Marcus Martin, and Jordan Devey blocking for him.
It is true that Kaepernick wasn’t put in the greatest situation to be successful, but it this isn’t a sudden decline. Even in 2014 when he still had Harbaugh and a decently talented team around him, the 49ers went 8-8 and missed the playoffs.
Playing Kaepernick will not deviate the 49ers from the path they’re on. They’re going to be terrible either way.
This isn’t an argument for Blaine Gabbert. He’s just as bad as Kaepernick, maybe even worse. They’re somewhat polar opposites. If there was a way to combine them, they would probably be a great quarterback.
Kaepernick struggles with reading defenses pre-snap, going through his reads, and standing tall in the pocket. Gabbert can make all the reads, but he just doesn’t have the arm talent to make the throws.
With Gabbert you get a 5-yard throw on 3rd and 6. With Kaepernick you get a 3-yard scramble.
It’s a tough situation for the 49ers, and it’s tough for fans to watch. No matter what Trent Baalke wants to say, the team is rebuilding. They’re making progress with hiring the right coach and finding some good talent in the trenches, but without a quarterback, it’s an uphill battle to win.