Through Two Games, Gabbert Has Been Up and Down

Niners' QB needs to be more accurate, says head coach Chip Kelly following Sunday's loss to the Falcons

Through two games, Blaine Gabbert’s play has been both good and bad.

He’s had some fine moments, such as his two long touchdown passes to Torrey Smith and Vance McDonald in Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers. He’s also used his feet to scramble and pick up first downs, and he’s taken just two sacks. He also guided the 49ers to a workmanlike victory over the Los Angeles Rams in the season opener.

Also, he’s been victimized by a less-than-stellar cast of receivers, who dropped several catchable balls against Carolina Sunday.

After two games, Gabbert ranks 25th among NFL quarterbacks, having completed 39-of-71 throws for 413 yards and three TDs vs. two interceptions, and has a quarterback rating of 74.4.

Head coach Chip Kelly told the media after Sunday’s game that Gabbert needs to be better.

“He wasn’t helped with the drops, but there were some plays where he could have been more accurate with the ball,” Kelly said.

The analytic website Pro Football Focus noted Monday that Gabbert hasn’t been aggressive in attacking defenses downfield. PFF reported Gabbert completed just 5-of-16 throws beyond 10 yards, with two interceptions.

“Nothing Blaine Gabbert has done in the first two weeks has convinced onlookers of his long-term suitability for the starting spot,” wrote Pro Football Focus’ John Breitenbach. “Despite being offered relatively good protection, Gabbert recorded yet another poor outing in Week 2.”

Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports wrote that Gabbert is “not the answer at quarterback,” and labeled him “a serviceable, bottom-10 starting NFL quarterback.”

After two weeks, Robinson – and a few others – believe it’s time for the 49ers to give former starter Colin Kaepernick a shot at the job. Kaepernick hasn’t looked good the past two years and was beaten out by Gabbert in training camp competition, but there’s always the prospect of him suddenly finding himself again and regaining the skills and confidence that made him look like a budding star.

Wrote Robinson: “Two games in, Blaine Gabbert is the same player he has always been. And that’s not a long-term solution.”

However, Gabbert was good enough to guide his team to a win in Game 1, and he had no role in the 49ers’ defensive shortcomings against the Panthers. With a more solid defense – and some better hands shown by his receivers – it’s also possible the 49ers could be 2-0 instead of 1-1. Two games seems too soon to make a change.

The 49ers next take on the Seahawks in Seattle this coming Sunday, with kickoff set for 1:05 p.m.

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