The San Francisco 49ers officially announced the trade for Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert, which also meant he took part in a conference call with reporters.
As would be excited, he seems excited about the fresh start. He had a lot of struggles in Jacksonville, but even beyond just that, he'll be looking to get past several injuries from 2013. He broke his thumb in training camp, then suffered a sizable laceration (15 stitches) on his hand early in the season, and finally dealt with a hamstring injury later in the season. All in all, 2013 was kind of a mess for Gabbert.
The conversation ended up with quite a bit of discussion about Alex Smith. There have been some comparisons between the two, particularly given the early struggles. When asked about his strengths as a quarterback, Gabbert pointed to having a lot of experience with different offensive systems. Much like Smith, Gabbert went through different coaches and systems. He thinks he can be a sounding board in the quarterback room because of that experience.
Although Gabbert and Smith have their differences, that didn't stop the questions from coming about the comparisons. Gabbert apparently spent last summer training with Alex Smith down in San Diego. Kansas City Chiefs backup QB Chase Daniel apparently set up the workout with Smith, Gabbert and Drew Brees. They had a chance to talk at that point, although obviously long before Gabbert became a member of the 49ers.
Gabbert has been working out for the last month and a half at the IMG academy in Tampa. He was in Santa Clara to take his physical, and he said he'll work on getting relocated out here to begin work at the facility. The offseason workout program begins later next month, and with OTAs early in the summer, he'll need to get up to speed on the playbook.
Even though he is clearly competing as Colin Kaepernick's backup, the more he knows the playbook, the more he can help from the sideline. A backup quarterback is not exactly sitting there twiddling his thumbs when the starter is out on the field. The better he knows the playbook, the more he can catch during practice and games. He can provide his two cents to Kap from a different angle. Maybe there's nothing there, but another set of eyes can never hurt in preparation.