The fact that Kaepernick – who’s returning from left shoulder, left knee and right thumb surgeries – is likely to receive medical clearance for full participation at training camp will obviously help his cause. But the 49ers’ coaching staff is enthusiastic about Gabbert’s physical tools, intelligence and leadership, with quarterbacks coach Ryan Day stating, “I didn’t know he’s as athletic as he is. He can make all the throws you need. He has a really good skillset and we’re excited about that moving forward.”
On Gabbert’s smarts, Day said, “When he comes into a meeting room, you better buckle up, because he knows what he’s talking about. He’s really sharp.”
The 10th pick in the 2011 draft, Gabbert flamed out in Jacksonville after three disappointing seasons. Last season was the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder’s first extensive action since 2012, and he fared respectably in completing a career-high 63.1 percent of throws and averaging a personal-best 7.20 yards per completion in eight games. He also added 11 touchdowns (10 passing, one rushing) against seven interceptions, and now appears to have the inside track on the 49ers’ starting job in Year 1 of the Chip Kelly era. If he rides the bench in favor of Gabbert, it’s fair to say it won’t sit well with Kaepernick, who requested a trade during the winter but stayed put after talks with the Broncos fell through.
More from the NFC:
- Bears QB Jay Cutler is coming off a season in which he threw just 11 picks in 15 games and posted a career-high 92.3 passer rating, but the offensive coordinator he worked with in 2015 – Adam Gase – left to become Miami’s head coach. That’s cause for concern, opine Rob Demovsky, Michael Rothstein and Ben Goessling of ESPN.com. All three expect Cutler to take a step backward this year with previous quarterback coach Dowell Loggains now in charge of the offense, and Rothstein and Goessling write that the loss of longtime Bears dual-threat running back Matt Forte to free agency could also hamper the 33-year-old signal-caller.
- While Matt Ryan is excited to have Matt Schaub in the fold as the Falcons’ backup quarterback, the 34-year-old isn’t a lock to make the roster, as D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution details. Schaub, who’s in his second stint with the Falcons after signing a one-year deal in the offseason, will have to knock off both Sean Renfree and Matt Simms for the No. 2 job. Having already played under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in Houston might give Schaub an edge, as could his experience. It’s possible the Falcons will keep Schaub around to essentially serve as a player-coach, per Ledbetter.
- Earlier Wednesday, we checked in on the latest from the NFC East – including the story of how $103MM Eagles defensive lineman Fletcher Cox almost ended up elsewhere in the 2012 draft.