As might be expected, Chip Kelly was Mr. Positive this past weekend.
When the 49ers new head coach talked to the Bay Area media this past weekend following the team’s recent rookie minicamp, he extolled the virtues of all his players.
“I think the good thing is everybody showed very well,” Kelly said in an interview on KNBR. “So I think, it’s exciting to get your hands on these guys.”
One player that’s really caught Kelly’s attention has been Jeff Driskel, a quarterback taken in the sixth round from Louisiana Tech. He loves Driskel’s athletic ability. Driskel was the fastest quarterback in the draft, having run a 4.47 time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
But in talking about Driskel, Kelly also complimented veteran quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert, who will compete for the No. 1 job in training camp once Kaepernick has rehabbed completely from offseason surgery.
It was believed before Kelly arrived that Kaepernick would be the perfect fit for Kelly’s offense because of his running ability and experience in the read-option scheme. But since Kelly has arrived with the 49ers, he says he’s been surprised by Gabbert’s athleticism.
Reading between the lines of Kelly’s comments, it appears the head coach doesn’t see much – if any – dropoff in athletic capabilities from Kaepernick to Gabbert for running his spread offense.
“The one thing that jumped out right away was just how athletic Blaine was,” Kelly told reporters. “We did not play against him when I was in Philly, so this is really my first exposure to him. But I think his athleticism is the first thing that kind of jump out at me.”
In Gabbert, Kaepernick and Driskel, Kelly has three tall quarterbacks capable of gaining yards on designed runs and scrambles – a rare commodity for any roster.
“The three of them, if you look at Driskel, Blaine and Kap, they’re all 6-4 plus, and all can run,” Kelly told the media. “All of them are at 4.6 or under 46.6 (in the 40), which is kind of rare to have three guys that can do the same thing. It’s beneficial to you.”