In a scouting report for the 49ers-Bears game this past week, one NFL scout told the Chicago Tribune that San Francisco quarterback Blaine Gabbert was an upgrade over Colin Kaepernick because of his better accuracy and fewer mistakes.
But, said the scout, “He’s not making a ton of huge plays.”
But on Sunday, in a 26-20 overtime victory over the Bears in Chicago, it was Gabbert making two huge plays, one at the end of regulation and the other to win it in OT, that gave the Niners an upset.
With 1:50 remaining in regulation, Gabbert sprinted 44 yards on a scramble for a touchdown that tied the game at 20-20.
The Bears then had a chance to come away with a victory, but kicker Robbie Gould badly pulled a 36-yard field goal attempt for the victory as the fourth quarter expired.
Then, after the 49ers and Bears each had to punt on their first possessions of overtime, Gabbert threw deep for a streaking Torrey Smith, hitting him in stride. Smith then pulled away from Bears safety Chris Prosinski on a 71-yard TD play to give the 49ers a victory.
The 49ers improve to 4-8 with the victory; the Bears drop to 5-7.
San Francisco has now won two of its four games since Gabbert was given the job over Kaepernick, who now is lost for the remainder of this season.
Against the Bears, Gabbert was 18-of-32 for 196 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions and an 84.9 quarterback rating. He also rushed six times for 75 yards and a score.
Over his four starts, Gabbert has thrown for four TDs and three interceptions, completed 65.3 percent of his passes and has a 91.0 QB rating. By comparison, Kaepernick this season had a 78.5 QB rating, had six TD throws vs. five interceptions and a 59 percent completion rate. Plus, Kaepernick was sacked 28 times in nine games. Gabbert, sacked four times by the Bears, has been sacked just eight times.
Now given a chance to resurrect his career in San Francisco after a tough time in Jacksonville, Gabbert is looking like a much better quarterback in his late-season audition.
Wrote Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk Sunday, after the 49ers’ victory: “In San Francisco, this game will be remembered as one in which Gabbert provided the offense with a spark, something it didn’t have much of when Kaepernick was running the show.”
The 49ers’ next opportunity is this coming Sunday in Cleveland against the Browns.