The San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback situation is uncertain following the team’s Thursday night loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The loss drops the 49ers to 1-4 on the season, a dangerous place to be for any team that has hopes of reaching the playoffs. Blaine Gabbert has started the first five games of the season for the 49ers, but after Thursday’s loss, Sports Illustrated reports that head coach Chip Kelly plans to re-evaluate the quarterback situation.
“I don’t think anybody played well on offense. Nobody did,” Kelly said about Thursday’s loss. “I think we’re going to look at everything. We are 1-4, we have got to make sure we’re going out there and giving us the best chance to win so we’re going to look at everything.”
Gabbert helped the 49ers beat the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1, but since then, the 49ers have lost four games in a row, with Gabbert throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. During the second half of the 49ers’ game Thursday night, fans began expressing their desire to see backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick, as chants of “We want Kap” could be heard at Levi’s Stadium.
Kaepernick has made headlines this season for refusing to stand during the National Anthem, but his only action at quarterback this year was in mop-up duty in Week 1. However, Kaepernick has had past success with the 49ers, leading them to the Super Bowl during the 2012 season. He is also in the midst of a contract worth up to $126 million, and so another chance to be the 49ers’ quarterback would appear inevitable given Gabbert’s struggles and the team’s current losing streak, in addition to the money Kaepernick is making.
Following the 49ers’ loss on Thursday, Kaepernick did not speak to the media, but Gabbert did, lamenting his poor performance to ESPN and other outlets.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” he said. “I let this team and this organization down tonight and did not play good whatsoever, and that’s on me. I had two crucial turnovers there that led to points for the Cardinals and that was the difference in the game right there. I got to do a better job protecting the football and leading this team to scoring more points and winning games.”
Gabbert also acknowledged that his spot as the 49ers’ quarterback could be in jeopardy moving forward.
“I’ve got to play better,” Gabbert said. “There’s no question to that. I’ve got to do a better job leading this football team, executing this offense, scoring points, winning games, the whole nine yards. That’s just the way it goes. I’ve got to play better.”
The 49ers’ quarterback job was taken away from Kaepernick and given to Gabbert in part because Kaepernick spent the offseason recovering from a slew of injuries, and Kelly believed he was not in ideal playing shape at the start of training camp. Kelly, who is in his first season as the 49ers’ head coach, has said in the past that he’d like Kaepernick to return to the playing weight he had in past years, enabling him to be a better runner. In Kelly’s offense, an athletic and mobile quarterback like Kaepernick could be more effective than Gabbert, which again points to the 49ers making a change at quarterback at some point.
Nevertheless, Kelly insists that Gabbert has been the better quarterback in practice, which is another reason why Kaepernick has stayed on the 49ers’ bench this season.
“Blaine has done a really nice job in practice,” Kelly said. “I would expect us to execute in practice now. It’s a controlled environment; you’re in a lot of trouble if you’re not having any success in practice, either. I think that’s what we have to make sure we can do is can we take it from the practice field to the game field, and we’re not doing that right now on the offensive side of the ball.”
The 49ers have a little extra time to evaluate the quarterback position before their Week 6 game against the Buffalo Bills, so it’ll be interesting to see if a change at quarterback does occur. Kelly was clear to say after Thursday’s game that a decision to change quarterbacks had not been made, nor did he consider changing his quarterback at any point during Thursday’s game.
Nevertheless, the 49ers are in a danger zone in terms of their season, and their quarterback play has been part of the problem. Kaepernick may not be ready to be the 49ers’ starting quarterback at this point, but he does have a higher upside than Gabbert, particularly in Kelly’s offense. That may be reason enough for the 49ers to make a change at quarterback, and after Thursday’s loss, the time may be right to make that change.
[Featured Image by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]