San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly announced Tuesday that Colin Kaepernick has been handed the reins to the team's offense, taking over for Blaine Gabbert at starting quarterback.
The decision comes amid the squad's four-game slump and less-than-stellar 1-4 start to the season.
"We're going to make a move at quarterback, and we're going to start Colin this week," Kelly told reporters during a morning news conference. "(We're) going to give him an opportunity to run with the ones. I believe you've got to do it at the beginning of the week just because of how reps are distributed."
Gabbert, who took over for Kaepernick midway through last season, had struggled to generate much offensive momentum and find sustained consistency with his receivers through five contests in 2016. Gabbert's 69.6 quarterback rating ranks 30th in the league, and the team is second-to-last in passing yards per game.
"We've had a couple of days to digest everything from where we are, and I think offensively we need to be better and just make a move," Kelly said. "It's not Blaine's fault. I think as a group, offensively, we need to be better in a lot of ways."
Kaepernick, who hasn't started under center since Nov. 1, 2015, against the then-St. Louis Rams, will get his first crack at resurrecting San Francisco's season this Sunday in Buffalo.
No. 7 burst onto the football scene in 2012, utilizing his dynamic run-and-pass skill set to pilot the 49ers to the Super Bowl. But the quarterback's efficiency slowly trailed off, and nagging injuries eventually landed Kaepernick on the bench.
However in August, Kaepernick recaptured national headlines after choosing to take a seat on the bench while the national anthem played before a preseason game. He has been sitting or taking a knee as a sign of civil protest over what he sees as police brutality and the unfair treatment of people of color.
Despite the protests and the recently reported contract extension talks surrounding Kaepernick, Kelly told reporters that Tuesday's announcement was not political. It was simply a "a football decision," Kelly said.
That decision did not sit too well with Gabbert.
"It sucks," he told reporters. "I don't like it. I don't like not playing. I'm very forward about that. But, at the same time, I'm going to work the same way I've always worked the three years I've been here. Put my best foot forward. Still continue to prepare. I'm not going to slack on the film work just because I'm not playing."
The quarterback swap has generated a range of opinions and responses from social media users. Some are cheering the decision to bring their favorite QB back. Others wish he'd remain seated.