In his first preseason with the 49ers last summer, quarterback Blaine Gabbert didn’t exactly wow anyone.
The former Jaguar – hoping for a fresh start in San Francisco after a sour experience in Jacksonville – completed just 46.8 percent of his throws (the worst mark among four 49ers passers), averaged just 4 yards per pass attempt, had as many interceptions as touchdowns (two), was sacked three times and had a dismal quarterback rating of 54.
Two weeks into his second training camp with San Francisco, it appears things may be much better in 2015 for Colin Kaepernick’s primary backup.
New offensive coordinator Geep Chryst says Gabbert has been extremely comfortable in the offensive scheme this spring and summer. Chryst – who was quarterbacks coach last season – has developed a good rapport with Gabbert, who is likely to get the majority of snaps in preseason games, including Game No. 1 Saturday in Houston against the Texans.
“He’s calm, comfortable and in command,” Chryst told reporters this week. “That’s going to be big. I know we want to see Kap out there, but I think having Blaine in these games is going to be fun. I’ll be really looking forward to him. Even though he’s been around, I think he wants to show the strides he’s made.”
At times this training camp, Gabbert has looked like a much-improved quarterback. In Tuesday’s 11-on-11 drills he completed 14-of-16 throws, showing both a strong arm and nice touch.
Certainly, Gabbert has plenty to prove. After a strong start at Jacksonville, he lost his starting job to injuries and poor performance. Then, last season, he didn’t look much better with the Niners. Recently, an NFL.com ranking of NFL backup quarterbacks put Gabbert dead last.
He can change those perceptions with a strong exhibition season.
Said Chryst: “I think he wants to show the strides he’s made.”