NFC Notes: Gabbert, Draughn, Tulloch

A look at the latest from a couple of NFC teams:

  • Most wrote 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert off after the former 10th overall pick’s failed tenure in Jacksonville from 2011-13, but he’s making the most of his current stint in San Francisco. The 26-year-old implies his struggles with the Jaguars were a blessing in disguise. “I would say I’m a better leader now for the experiences I’ve had in the last five years,” Gabbert stated, per Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. As McDonald notes, Gabbert faced difficult circumstances with the Jags – including taking over as the starter before he was truly ready. This year is the first time Gabbert has garnered significant playing time since joining the 49ers last season, and he has put up solid numbers (63 percent completion rate, five touchdowns and three interceptions in four games). One prominent teammate – receiver Anquan Boldin – sees clear progress. “You’ve seen him the last couple of weeks. He’s been playing lights out,” Boldin said. “We’re happy to have him here, we enjoy playing with him and everybody on the team has confidence in him.”
  • Linebacker Stephen Tulloch and the Lions’ defense have fared well since coordinator Teryl Austin decreased Tulloch’s role earlier in the season and started using him mostly as a run stopper. Despite the uptick in Tulloch’s play, his future beyond this season is uncertain. Because linebackers who have difficulty against the pass aren’t that valuable, the Lions could opt to cut the 10-year veteran after the season and save roughly $6MM on their cap, writes Kyle Meinke of Two of Tulloch’s biggest advocates – Austin and head coach Jim Caldwell – might be elsewhere in 2016, which would increase the likelihood of his days in Detroit ending.
  • The 49ers plan to re-sign running back Shaun Draughn and let him compete for a roster spot next year, reports Matt Maiocco of Injuries to Carlos Hyde, Reggie Bush and Mike Davis have enabled Draughn to take over the starting role over the last several games. Draughn hasn’t exactly dazzled as a ball carrier (3.3 yards per rush) during his four weeks as the team’s primary back, but he has averaged a respectable 85.5 total yards per game. Maiocco cites Draughn’s well-rounded game – including his ability on special teams – as the reason to keep him in the fold.
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