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Blaine Gabbert continues to be the backup QB

I have some thoughts on Blaine Gabbert, backup QB, with the regular season approaching.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In his most recent press conference, Jim Harbaugh was forced to answer questions about Blaine Gabbert, sparking an investigation of potential torture incidents in the Bay Area being conducted by savage packs of beat reporters on unsuspecting coaches. To be fair, that wasn't even the worst thing Harbaugh had to face in the press conference: somebody literally asked him if he is an expert on grass. That actually happened. It happened right before Harbaugh was then asked to predict the future.

So, I guess talking about Blaine Gabbert really isn't the worst thing Harbaugh has to do in his press conferences. And, to be honest, I feel a little bad making fun of Gabbert. I don't know him, but so far his work with the 49ers appears to be earnest and genuine. He's worked hard; he seems like a good guy.

But, he hasn't played all that well. Not at all, which has led to some concern across the lands. The kingdom is in disarray, and Gabbert has become the plucky underdog who can save the day through the power of Disney songs and learning how to stand in the pocket without panicking. And, if not him, then Josh Johnson sure sounds like he can sing better than Gabbert - err, play better, I mean.

Well, I'd like to contend that this season is shaping up to be one of those seasons that would be pretty much doomed should Colin Kaepernick miss extended time, and there's really not much the team can do about that.

To be fair, I think this is true about most seasons for most teams. Quarterback is a really hard position to play, and there are usually less than 32 really good QBs in the league. That means QB depth isn't the prevalent. I wish it were; I really wish that the 49ers had chosen a QB in the mid- to late-rounds to develop over the next few years as depth, trading him away should the situation ever arise (and that would be a best case situation, sort of like when two candy bars fall out of the vending machine when you only purchased one).

But, we don't have that depth, and it strikes me as rare for most teams to have it anyway. In this regard, Gabbert is just as competent as most other backup QBs in the league: he can take snaps and throw the football - usually with accuracy and mostly with good decision making. He just can't do it as well as around 30 other guys in the league.

The issue is particularly compounded by the fact that we are in the NFC West. When backup QBs play for long stretches of the season and do it well, they must be doing so in a weaker division. Or so I would imagine. I don't know if anybody has done a study. But, we really can't expect a backup QB to face the type of defenses there are in the NFC West and have a great level of success.

So, we have to pray that Colin doesn't go down for an extended period of time and that Harbaugh continues to work his QB magic with Gabbert. You know, whenever he isn't taking Soil Science 104L: Expertise in Grass.

Here are Harbaugh's pertinent comments on Gabbert and the backup QB position:

Any changeup in the quarterback order for Sunday's game that they come into the game?


You said after last week's game that the backup quarterback is going to be the guy who doesn't turn the ball over. Is there a guy who's ahead right now? Is it even? Is QB Blaine Gabbert looking like he's on track? Where is that roster battle, for a lack of a better phrase, where is that right now?

"I think Blaine is that guy right now. Just kind of long standing, we're talking about, there's no real controversy at any other position other than the starting quarterback the way I look at it. Would be glad to address those if that comes up, but I don't really talk about the other positions in that way as far as from a controversy standpoint. Does that make sense? Just like we don't go through every other position and talk about who we plan on starting or who the backup would be."

Blaine's numbers, which you might term "low hanging fruit," don't look good. Are they reflective of how he's performed?

"I don't judge it off of just those. I've been pretty clear what I thought we needed to get better as, as a unit - a team-oriented offense that has precision and plays well together, all 11. And that's what we've been striving for. We've had a good week, feel like we've made progress and hopefully that progress shows up on Sunday."