The San Francisco 49ers are approximately 40 days from their first practice of 2015 training camp. Once camp gets going, there will be daily media reports leading up to the preseason opener on August 15. That time will give us a better grasp on the depth chart, and which players have climbed onto the bubble.
As we approach training camp, we'll be assessing the roster in several ways. We'll start with this bubble watch post. We'll go position-by-position, and break down whether players are locks, strong bubble, weak bubble and longshots. The discussion for each article will not follow a specific format, but rather will focus on the more interesting aspects of the particular roster competition. In July, we'll follow this with a look at contract numbers for each position, and we'll close with a look at key questions facing each position.
Locks: Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert
Strong Bubble: None
Weak Bubble: Dylan Thompson
The San Francisco 49ers got through OTAs and minicamp with three quarterbacks on the roster. It would seem likely the team would add a fourth for training camp, but for now they sit at three. This has allowed Thompson to get plenty of reps, and opens the door for him to get a lot of playing time in the preseason. I still think we see them add a fourth quarterback to take some fourth quarter snaps, but that person will almost assuredly slot into the longshots list.
Plenty of fans are not particularly high on Blaine Gabbert, and this has opened the door to some interesting discussion about the backup quarterback position. I have seen some suggestions that the team should cut Gabbert and roll with Thompson. It is certainly possible Thompson could light it up in training camp and the preseason, and claim Gabbert's roster spot. I suppose that is reason enough to consider Gabbert as strong bubble.
I just don't see it happening. The 49ers signed Gabbert to a 2-year extension this offseason. The $500,000 signing bonus does not guarantee anything, but I just can't see the 49ers releasing Gabbert in the same offseason. Gabbert is still sufficiently young enough that he could develop as a decent backup option. Thompson of course is younger, but he was viewed as a potential UDFA candidate for a reason. He has to work on footwork and accuracy. Maybe it all randomly comes together this year, but I'm just not holding my breath.
The question then becomes whether the 49ers would carry three quarterbacks. Thompson strikes me as a logical practice squad candidate given the development issues he faces. The 49ers have turned over a lot of talent, but they still have a lot of talent on the roster. I don't think a developmental quarterback is going to be able to beat out some of these candidates for the back-end of the roster. A strong preseason could make it difficult to slip Thompson through waivers, but I don't think that is something the 49ers should be worrying about at this point in time.