Photo by Mitch Stringer of USA Today Sports

Photo by Mitch Stringer of USA Today Sports


Are the 49ers wasting their time with Blaine Gabbert?

Al Sacco
Aug 7, 2014 at 7:12 PM9


Jim Harbaugh has a reputation for being a quarterback guru.

The head coach has helped mold the likes of Colin Kaepernick and Andrew Luck, and both have ultimately become franchise signal callers in the NFL. Harbaugh has also been able to revive the career of Alex Smith, who looked to be headed for life as a career backup before he teamed up with the quarterback whisperer in 2011. Smith has since gone 30-9-1 in his last 40 regular season NFL starts with the 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs.

With a track record like Harbaugh's, it not crazy to think that the 49ers can take a chance on a passer who may have not yet reached his potential, with the hopes that their coach can bring the best out of that player.

That was most likely the thought process when the 49ers traded for Blaine Gabbert this offseason, who was the number 10 overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Gabbert, who the Jaguars hoped would be the savior of their floundering franchise, was a train wreck over his first three seasons.

He started 27 games in Jacksonville, and posted a record of 5-22. 2013 was especially bad, as he seemed to regress across the board. In three starts (all losses), Gabbert completed less than 49 percent of his throws and was picked off seven times.

Overall, the embattled quarterback threw 22 touchdowns to 24 interceptions during the forgettable three year run.

Those in Gabbert's corner could argue that he was thrown into a bad situation, being forced to try and win with limited talent around him. Those same supporters would argue that Gabbert might be a better performer with a stronger supporting cast.

With his trade to the 49ers, Gabbert now has a talented roster around him. While he was in no way ever considered to be a threat to Kaepernick's starting job, the hope was he could show enough to be a quality backup.

Despite the optimism, if Gabbert's first preseason game was any indication, San Francisco might be better off going in a different direction.

Gabbert was flat out awful in his 49ers' debut against the Baltimore Ravens. He looked inaccurate, sailing passes and throwing behind receivers. For the night, he completed only three of 11 throws (27 percent) for 20 yards and an interception.

For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, that kind of performance is beyond worrisome.

Now in a perfect world, Gabbert (or whoever ends up being the backup) would never see the field anyway. The 49ers' championship hopes rest on the back of Kaepernick, and if he were to miss an extended period of time the results could be catastrophic.

But when you consider the fact that the Niners were only one win away from having the NFC Championship game in San Francisco last season, even losing Kaepernick for a game or two could set the team back considerably. If Kaepernick were to miss even one start, do the 49ers have a reliable replacement?

Gabbert still has time to turn things around, after all there are still three preseason games to go. Harbaugh and the 49ers still have an opportunity to try and get Gabbert up to speed. However, if he doesn't adjust quickly, they may be better off going with Josh Johnson as the backup.

Moving forward, it might even make sense for San Francisco to draft a quarterback to develop behind Kaepernick. If that player proves to be competent, they could always use him as trade bait down the line similar to what the New England Patriots have done with Ryan Mallett.

That thought's for another day though, and right now the team has to play the cards they have. That may mean holding their collective breathes every time Kaepernick takes a hit in 2014.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


9 Comments

  • David
    Dont plan on seeing any Gabberts or Josh Johnsons anyway. Niners just wanted a player who has been in the several years ala Colt McCoy. I have no problem with that, except I hate he gets paid so much. Why didnt we draft a rookie Qb in the 5th or 6th round?
    Aug 13, 2014 at 11:20 PM
    0
  • Marty
    48ers QBs all struggled, even Kaepernick. Kaepernick threw 2 passes, force incomplete pass to Johson & a 5 yard pass to MacDonald who ran for 17 yards. Offense ran the ball effectively, but again had to settle for a FG in the red zone. Yes, just a preseason game the offense had the same problems. Can't score TDs, can't get first downs, terrible play calling, game management, mistakes & turn overs. The performance by the offense is just a repeat of the last three seasons. If it says anything, it says the 49ers still haven't figure the out their problems.
    Aug 10, 2014 at 7:34 AM
    0
  • Mark
    It took more than one preseason game to fix Alex Smith and it will take more than on here as well. If after all 4 he's made no improvement then we can call it. McCoy never seemed to get it either.
    Aug 9, 2014 at 10:51 AM
    0
  • DK
    All I have to say is Why? Jacksonville dump it on Niners
    Aug 9, 2014 at 8:41 AM
    0
  • Mike
    Gabbert was inaccurate and also looked like a one read quarterback. That's also how he looked in Jacksonville. The 2nd spot is definitely up for grabs. Hope somebody earns it.
    Aug 8, 2014 at 1:37 PM
    0
  • Jeff Garcia
    Yes, he's a waste of time. Put me in there coach!
    Aug 8, 2014 at 9:56 AM
    0
  • Daniners
    Dude, give it a rest. It's one preseason game. All these no nothing's complaining about the team. Preseason is meaningless to everyone but young players needing to learn. Each game, our young players will improve and gain confidence. Normal. The rest of them, they are just trying to stay healthy. That's it, that is all there is to read into preseason. The most important young players flashed their ability tonight, Hyde, Dial, Carradine, Okoye, McDonald, Lemonier, Ellington, Wilhoite and Ward. Gabbert? He probably sucks, so did McCoy. If we lose Kaepernick, it won't matter who the backup is 'cause we aren't winning the West or SB without him. If we need some clown to win two games, the niners will go find a guy whether it's Gabbert or not. Beyond that won't matter and I would rather get the #1 pick than watch some perennial backup go 7-8.
    Aug 7, 2014 at 8:49 PM
    0
  • Michael Crabtree
    By: Michael Crabtree Comment: Hell Yes!
    Aug 7, 2014 at 8:34 PM
    0
  • Jim Harbaugh
    Yes
    Aug 7, 2014 at 7:41 PM
    0

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