Niners Liking What They See in Gabbert

Former Jaguars QB seems to be regaining his form, which would make him a valuable insurance policy in case Kaepernick is injured in 2014

By Doug Williams
|  Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014  |  Updated 9:22 AM PDT
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Niners Liking What They See in Gabbert

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Former Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert hopes to re-start his career with the 49ers. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

The victims were scattered across the fields of the NFL in 2013, and included Sam Bradford, Jay Cutler, E.J. Manuel, Brian Hoyer, Terrelle Pryor, Christian Ponder, Jake Locker and Michael Vick.

The best-laid plans of NFL teams were wrecked, or severely changed, by injuries to starting quarterbacks last season.

So, as the 49ers transitioned from 2013 to 2014, they believed they needed to have a better option than Colt McCoy as the primary backup to starter Colin Kaepernick.

If Kaepernick should go down this season, head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman wanted a quarterback who could continue to operate the 49ers’ offense and get them to the playoffs.

So in early March San Francisco traded a sixth-round draft pick for Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who had been the 10th overall choice of the 2011 draft, but had devolved from promising starter to injured and struggling player in 2013.

Last season, the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder from Missouri played just three games, completed only 48.8 percent of his throws and had seven interceptions against just one touchdown pass, just two seasons removed from a solid rookie year when he had 12 TD throws in 15 games.

But after going through organized team activities (OTAs) and full-squad minicamp with his new team, Gabbert appears to be back on track.

Gabbert is in competition with veterans Josh Johnson and McLeod Bethel-Thompson and undrafted rookie Kory Faulkner for the No. 2 job, and has caught Harbaugh’s attention in a positive way.

“Very impressed with Blaine mentally, physically – all attributes that you’d like to see in a quarterback,” Harbaugh told the media after a recent minicamp session. “He’s been very good, very solid. (He’s) picked up everything very quickly. It’s going well. Everything is progressing well.”

Gabbert has a strong arm and good mobility, but in Jacksonville started to struggle behind a porous offensive line and a weak roster. He no longer looked like the physically gifted player he was in college, and regressed, losing his starting job to Chad Henne.

Now, with a winning organization and given time to develop again behind Kaepernick, Gabbert hopes to regain some career momentum.

“It’s definitely a different vibe with a new organization, but I really took a lot from my three years in Jacksonville and learned a lot, saw a lot,” Gabbert said recently. “I’m just trying to use those experiences to help me moving forward.”

 

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