After falling to a record of 2-6 and bearing witness to several poor quarterbacking performances, the 49ers have decided to bench Colin Kaepernick in favor of backup Blaine Gabbert, according to a source.
The source first said that a big change was coming for the 49ers on Tuesday, and followed up later with confirmation that the change is going to be at the quarterback position. Gabbert will be starting for the 49ers against the Falcons on Sunday, the source said.
While the suggested timing of an announcement (Tuesday, when the only media availability is for conversations with players in the locker room) is curious, the decision isn’t. Kaepernick has played abysmally in back-to-back games against division rivals, several franchise voices have been tossing blame his way for weeks, and yesterday Jason Cole said two 49ers players texted him and said it’s time for Kaepernick to be benched.
The decision was only telegraphed further by Tomsula’s non-committal answer regarding Kaepernick’s job security during his Monday press conference.
Q: Have you guys met and is there a decision on who your starting quarterback will be Sunday?
Tomsula: Yeah, we’re evaluating everything right now. So, we’re in the middle of it right now. I don’t have any comments on any position on our field right now. We are evaluating everybody.
Q: In the past, you’ve stated quite clearly, “QB Colin Kaepernick is our quarterback.”
Tomsula: Yeah, we’re evaluating everyone.
Q: Does that mean he might not start the next game?
Tomsula: I’m not going to have any further comment. I’m just telling you that we are evaluating everyone.
Through eight games, Kaepernick has thrown for 1,615 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions. He has a completion percentage of 59.3 and a quarterback rating of 78.8 — down almost 10 points from 2014 and 20 points from his 2012 season.
Gabbert played three seasons in Jacksonville before coming to the 49ers in 2014. Over that time, he never had a completion percentage higher than 58.3 or a quarterback rating above 77.4. While Gabbert is a more pure pocket passer than Kaepernick, he struggled behind a porous Jaguars offensive line. The situation he’ll step into now won’t be much better.
With Vernon Davis’ trade to the Broncos, fans are now beginning to see the wholesale changes that truly signify a season in disarray. The trade deadline is Tuesday, so more changes could be coming down the pipe. But a shakeup at quarterback is about as big as it gets for the downtrodden franchise in Santa Clara.