NFL Wire News

49ers’ QB switch might be short-lived

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The Sports Xchange

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Memo to the Seattle Seahawks:

In preparing for your Nov. 22 game against San Francisco, don’t put a whole lot of time into breaking down the film of the 49ers’ matchup this coming Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

San Francisco coach Jim Tomsula says his club might have a different quarterback by the time of your game.

Heck, the 49ers, who have a bye in between their games against the Falcons and Seahawks, might even have a new coach.

Yes, the situation is that fluid.

Making his first public comments since word got out that he was benching starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Tomsula insisted Wednesday that the move to backup Blaine Gabbert isn’t necessarily a long-term thing.

“It’s this week,” he said. “Blaine Gabbert will be our starting quarterback this week, and that’s all I have to say.”

Actually, Tomsula said a lot more, including why Kaepernick, who just 33 months was quarterbacking the 49ers in a Super Bowl, was being benched.

“All of you know this, the respect that I have for Colin Kaepernick,” Tomsula said. “I just felt like I wanted Colin to step back and breathe and look at things through a different lens. Keep preparing, keep doing his thing, keep working, but just step back. Take a look at things. That’s what I want.”

What Kaepernick will see is a 2-6 team that he failed to get into the end zone in three of the 49ers’ past five games.

His passer rating of 78.8 is the 25th best among quarterbacks who have thrown at least 100 passes this season.

Tomsula elaborated on the positive aspects such a move can generate for a struggling starting quarterback.

“That position gets way more credit than it should when you win, and it gets way more junk than it should when you lose,” he said. “It’s just that pile. It just keeps getting bigger, and I just want him out of there.”

For what it’s worth, Gabbert said his own benching in Jacksonville during his third season with the Jaguars helped get him to where he is today.

“It gave me a chance to step back, see how he (Chad Henne) handled the situation, see how he prepared,” the former first-round pick said. “It’s just a learning experience, because all quarterbacks want to have long careers and there’s going to be ups and downs. But at the same time, you have to keep pushing forward because you never know when your opportunity is going to be.”

SERIES HISTORY: 76th regular-season meeting. 49ers lead, 45-29-1. The 49ers have dominated the all-time series in games in the San Francisco Bay Area, winning 27 of 38. Their two-game winning streak over the Falcons includes a 34-24 home win on Dec. 23, 2013. That was the clubs’ first meeting since their matchup in the 2012 NFC Championship Game, which was won by the 49ers 28-24 in Atlanta. The 49ers haven’t lost to the Falcons since 2010.

GAME PLAN

The 49ers might go into the Atlanta game with a guy recently promoted from the practice squad (Kendall Gaskins) and two veterans collected from the scrap heap (Shaun Draughn and Pierre Thomas) as their only healthy running backs. Sounds as if Blaine Gabbert is going to have to throw a lot in his 49ers starting debut.

That is not the best way to attack the Falcons, who have given up more rushing touchdowns (11) than passing scores (nine).

On defense, the 49ers will have to deal with Atlanta’s new look. The Falcons have run the ball better than they have thrown it in recent weeks, a trend they would like to continue against a San Francisco run defense that has allowed 122- and 133-yard games to Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch and St. Louis’ Todd Gurley, respectively, in the past two weeks.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

–49ers QB Blaine Gabbert vs. Falcons pass defense.

To be honest, this is all that really matters at this point in a lost season. The 49ers would like to see if Gabbert, making his first start, is a potential long-term replacement for demoted Colin Kaepernick. Facing the Falcons isn’t the ideal way to be judged. Atlanta hasn’t allowed more than one touchdown pass in any of its past five games.

–49ers run defense vs. Falcons RB Devonta Freeman.

The 49ers failed to contain Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch and St. Louis’ Todd Gurley the last two weeks when they could pretty much focus on stopping the run. It won’t be as easy this time around being that the Falcons have a far greater passing game than either the Seahawks or Rams. That said, allowing even one touchdown to Freeman probably would be the kiss of death. The Falcons are 4-1 when he scores at least once.

–49ers pass defense vs. Falcons WR Julio Jones.

The 49ers haven’t see a top-flight wideout since Baltimore’s Steve Smith three games ago. Smith and the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. had 137- and 121-yard outings against San Francisco in consecutive weeks. Now the 49ers get to try their hand on Jones, who is coming off a 12-catch, 162-yard monster effort against Tampa Bay. The Falcons were able to get both Jones and Freeman (131 total yards) going last week.


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