After being dropped nine games into the 2015/16 season in preference for Jaguars cast-off Blaine Gabbert and with a trade impending, Colin Kaepernick will not have expected to be in with a chance of starting the first game of the new season for the team that disregarded him.
However, he returned to practice this week from what seemed like a few desperately needed surgeries to his knee, throwing-thumb, and shoulder with the latter ailing him since apparently injuring it in week four last season against the Packers. He should be better than ever to give the rejuvenated Gabbert a run for his money, as long as the 49ers still have faith in him.
Consequently, he should be better than ever to give the rejuvenated Gabbert a run for his money, as long as the 49ers still have faith in him.
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The Sacremento Bee journalist Matt Barrows reported that Kaepernick has resumed throwing a “bit", with the hope that he would be cleared by doctors in the next month.
Kaepernick and Gabbert's statistics over the eight games they started are rather identical with the most eye-catching numbers, barring the numerous sacks (53) allowed by an under-performing offensive line, were the unforgivable fumbles given away by both quarterbacks (Kaepernick five, Gabbert four) and the slightly more consistent arm of Gabbert with a 63.1% pass completion rate, compared to Kaepernick's 59.0%.
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On the other hand, if Kaepernick can return to his form in 2013 (21 touchdowns and eight interceptions) and 2014 (19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions), he should be a shoe-in for the starting role.
The team, who are going through a transitional stage in their development, still has an opportunity to cut the injury-prone leader, who was previously thought of as their franchise quarterback once they chose to play him over the ever-consistent, Alex Smith, who subsequently got traded to Kansas City.
But this does not look likely as they decided to skip drafting a collegiate quarterback until the sixth round, where they picked up Jeff Driskel, a similar player to Kaepernick who has encountered injury problems during his career leading to a graduate transfer from Florida to Louisiana Tech, and despite trade interests, Kaepernick remained in California.
Driskel and Kaepernick seemingly fit the Chip Kelly style-of-play better than Gabbert, but the doubts surrounding both of the two run-first quarterbacks suggests Gabbert will be favourite to start against the Los Angeles Rams on the first Monday Night Football of the season.
With limited stars at wide receiver, in fact, make that zero stars, whoever does start for Chip Kelly at quarterback in his fast-paced, intense system will have to be very reliant on a couple of distinctly average targets in Torrey Smith, Bruce Ellington and Quinton Patton to bring the ball in and secure important first downs.
Kelly surprised many by not drafting more skilled players on offence, with just three drafted in total and none until the sixth round, suggesting he was not looking for instant starters.
Another tough season for the 49ers on the offensive side of the ball beckons unless Kelly can make the correct choice in selecting Kaepernick and find some free-agent receivers that have ghosted under the radar, such as former Raven, Kamar Aiken.