Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports



I stated a few weeks ago that I thought Colin Kaepernick should sit down for at least a few games and he of course promptly went out and beat the Ravens. I was happy to be my own jinx in that situation, but eventually my opinion became a reality. Kaepernick returned to his low-form and now we're looking at a new starter for the matchup against the Falcons.

Blaine Gabbert, for some of us anyway, represents an all new low. For some others, there's still a hint of hopefulness that this former top-10 draft pick will show some of the flash that made him so highly regarded before getting depantsed in Jacksonville for the better part of 3 years. What he actually produces in his first opportunity with his new team will probably fall somewhere in between atrocious to mediocre according to conventional wisdom. Most importantly, Gabbert represents a "control" element to see what's really wrong with this offense that finds itself ranked last in most of the statistical categories that matter. His introduction into the offense will tell us if Kaepernick is broken or if the whole thing is in need of a rebuild.

Best Case Scenario

Gabbert rips it up. Count this as also the most unlikely scenario. Behind a patchwork offensive line (the most generous description I can give them), Gabbert will need to be quick in his reads and even quicker with his release. If he manages that and the 49ers get some kind of a running game going, then everybody might save their jobs. Baalke looks smarter for rolling the dice on a 1st round bust, Chryst can blame the offensive woes on a head case quarterback, and Jed York gets to tie a nice big bow on his ouster of Harbaugh and everything that bears his fingerprints. Kaepernick and his weird contract are gone at the end of the year and a young quarterback is drafted to compete with the rejuvenated Gabbert.

Worst Case Scenario

Gabbert gets hurt before we learn anything. Either he comes in and does so-so or is terrible, then gets put out after absorbing what's likely to be one of many hits he'll take playing behind the worst line in the league. Enter Kaepernick, who goes back to wetting the bed for the remainder of the season or even worse yet, plays just well enough to create a real question of whether or not he'll be back again the next season. Somehow, I have a feeling this is the one that plays out.

Best Case for Kaepernick

Gabbert is terrible and plays his way back onto the bench. Kaepernick regains some confidence knowing that it isn't his whole fault that this offense is atrocious and starts to play a little more in rhythm as a result. Daniel Kilgore comes back and the offense gets off the basement level before the end of the year. He does play well enough to convince the 49ers he deserves another year of this pay-as-you-go agreement they have and this season is chalked off to a turnaround year.

Best Case for Jed York

Gabbert just provides enough of a bridge to justify dumping Kaepernick and his expensive contract. What this actually looks like in the eyes of 49ers management, the ones really pulling the strings on this situation, is anybody's guess. Ideally, they want to keep Kaepernick on the bench, away from the threat of injury and the guaranteeing of millions of dollars payable by the team as a result. For whatever reason he may hold dear, Jed York seems bound and determined to wash away any trace of Jim Harbaugh's success and no player more strongly connects with that coach than this quarterback. Colin's fate was likely sealed shortly after Harbaugh's was, to be saved only by playing at an "Elite" level on par with the Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady's of the league.

Best Case for the Fans

A strike-shortened season and Jed York gets deported from the United States. GUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Halfway through this year, I've learned that any opportunity for a decision to go wrong for the 49ers probably will. This team is either cursed, poorly run, or a combination of both, but one thing is becoming very clear for fans of this team. Things are still getting worse and will continue to get worse long before any real optimism is justified. Jed York has repeatedly stated his goal of returning the team to its winning ways, but his actions have proved he's far more interested in preserving his ego and authority than just about everything else.