NFL Wire News

Gabbert gets nod at QB over Kaepernick


The Sports Xchange

Blaine Gabbert is starting at quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers this week, a move that sends former Pro Bowl passer Colin Kaepernick to the bench along with his $10.4 million salary.

Kaepernick, a second-round pick in 2011, would cost the team more than $20 million in dead money if he’s released.

Reports of turmoil in the locker room and Kaepernick putting himself “on an island” around teammates by wearing headphones in group settings and not embracing group outings began two weeks ago.

Coach Jim Tomsula did not announce the quarterback switch in his Monday press conference but hinted that some changes might be made. When asked whether Kaepernick would remain the starter, he said, “We’re evaluating everything right now. We’re in the middle of it right now, and I don’t have any comments on any position on our field right now. We’re evaluating everyone.”

Multiple outlets reported Monday night that Kaepernick was told he would be the backup quarterback Sunday and that Gabbert would start against the Atlanta Falcons. Kaepernick turned 28 on Tuesday.

San Francisco has made multiple changes entering Week 9. Tight end Vernon Davis was traded to the Denver Broncos and running back Reggie Bush was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with a torn medial collateral ligament. The 49ers filled Bush’s roster spot with free agent Pierre Thomas, formerly of the New Orleans Saints.

The 49ers also announced that cornerback defensive lineman Kaleb Ramsey was suspended for the next four games after he violated the NFL policy on performance-enhancing drugs. To replace him, the team signed cornerback Chris Davis to the practice squad.

By far the most seismic move for the franchise involved Kaepernick, who is two years removed from a contract extension.

Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl following the 2012 season after taking over from Alex Smith midway through the year. The 49ers slipped to 12-4 in his first full season as the 49ers’ starting quarterback in 2013, and they were 8-8 last season, Jim Harbaugh’s final season as head coach.

Kaepernick’s passer rating went down each season, from 98.3 in 2012 to 91.6 in 2013 to 86.4 last season to 78.8 in eight games this season.

Kaepernick has completed 59.3 percent of his passes with six touchdown passes and five interceptions this year. The 49ers are 2-6, and they managed just nine points and no touchdowns in their past two games combined. Kaepernick averaged just 4.0 yards per passing attempt Sunday in a 27-6 loss to the St. Louis Rams.

Gabbert was a first-round pick in 2011 with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In his in his second season with San Francisco, he attempted just seven passes, completing three, in 2014.

He started three games for Jacksonville in 2013, and the Jaguars lost all three. Gabbert was 1-9 as the Jaguars’ starter in 2012 and 4-10 in 2011. He has never had a passer rating better than 77.4, which he achieved in 2012.

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