What follows is a post that, while not entirely devoid of reason, is also not going to be chock full of things like DVOA or PFF ratings. Rather, it is a simple argument as to why Blaine Gabbert should be given a fair shot at taking over as the 49ers starting quarterback.
I keep hearing stuff like once the 49ers put in Gabbert it's basically a sign that they're giving up on the season, and that it's a given that Gabbert will play even worse than Kaepernick. But how is that possible? Kaepernick threw four picks against Arizona, including two early pick-6s that pretty much shot the 49ers in the foot, and he wasn't a whole lot better yesterday against Green Bay, constantly throwing behind, over and under receivers. Not only that, Tim Ryan yesterday said Kaepernick looks devoid of confidence. You don't see fire in his eyes.
People keep seeing Kaepernick's big games, including the one against Pittsburgh 3 weeks ago, and they use those to justify why Kaepernick should remain the starter. But those great moments and games are becoming fewer and further between, and more and more we've seen some shoddy QB play. Throwing accuracy and pocket presence were big question marks for Kaepernick coming out of Nevada, and even into his fifth season they remain major issues.
What if benching Kaepernick is the answer? Not in terms of whether Gabbert will move the offense better or not; we don't know that for sure. But maybe it'll help Kaepernick regain that fire. Kaepernick played his head off in 2012 because he knew if he faltered the 49ers had a solid backup in Alex Smith. But once Smith left and they brought in Colt McCoy and then Gabbert as his primary backups, while he continued to work hard, I feel like some of the edge was taken off because Kaepernick knew he was THE guy and didn't have to fight to keep his spot.
People would say it's unfair to blame Kaepernick and not his shoddy O-line, but neither Derek Carr nor Russell Wilson have great O-lines and yet they still have had a lot of success. Why? Because they don't hold on to the ball way too long the way Kaepernick does. Even Aaron Rodgers doesn't have a great O-line; it's probably decent at best, but because he is decisive and gets rid of the ball quick it looks better. Kaepernick looked good when he had a prime-time O-line 2-3 years ago, but now with an average O-line he's been mostly subpar.
And I feel like Gabbert didn't get a fair shake. In Jacksonville, it was dysfunctional from top to bottom, even more so than the 49ers have been (although maybe in my fandomness I don't think it's as bad as a lot of people think). But he had really nothing to work with there. While the O-line is still a work in progress and will probably look a lot better when Daniel Kilgore returns, it's got to be better than what he had in Jacksonville. And he does have some weapons.
This isn't saying Gabbert's going to come in and be a future Hall of Famer, not by any means. But really, what do we have to lose? How much longer are we going to watch drive after drive get stalled because Kaepernick made an off target throw or wasn't aware of the rush? While his running ability has enabled him to escape getting sacked, he's also walked into a lot of sacks because of his average at best pocket presence. On the other hand, I've read nothing but rave reviews about how Gabbert has been picking up the offense. Granted, it was preseason, but we didn't hear anything about that in regards to Kaepernick.
I know it's still too early in the season to give on Kaepernick, and maybe once the 49ers face some weaker defenses the offense will look a little better. But the offense hasn't scored more than 20 points in a game all season and only managed a field goal in the last two games. Maybe the Cardinals and Packers have really good defenses, but only a field goal? That's pathetic.
The Kaepernick fan in me is willing to give him another game or 2 to redeem himself. But honestly I'm starting to get tired of seeing him fall short pretty much every week. It's gotten to whenever he throws the ball I'm praying nothing bad happens, and you can't win with that kind of quarterback. While I'm not saying to totally give up on Kaepernick, at least see what you have in Gabbert. You're paying the dude $1 million a year over the next two years anyway, so might as well play the guy.