The San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals got Thursday Night Football off to a horrific start, combining for nine straight punts to open the game. Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton were atrocious for much of the first quarter and a half, really looking similar in nature. Of course, Stanton is the clear backup making an injury-related start, while Blaine Gabbert is the 49ers “clear” starter for the time being.
I’m pretty sure most people would agree Thursday was bad football, and Blaine Gabbert made too many mistakes. He threw two interceptions and overthrew several wide open receivers. The 49ers poor performance was not all his fault, but he deserves plenty of blame.
However, announcer Phil Simms seemed to think differently. The former NFL quarterback acknowledged Gabbert’s short-comings at times, but there were significant stretches where he was selling Gabbert like he was his agent, or Gabbert was his own son.
Pro Football Talk transcribed this particular comment:
“I got no feeling — I haven’t in anything I’ve read, watched, watching practice, talking to the players, talking to the coach — there’s nothing that’s given me a hint that anywhere close with that quarterback change could happen with the San Francisco 49ers,” Simms said on the broadcast. “That’s just my opinion. . . . I saw Blaine Gabbert taking all the reps, doing all the practice. A lot of encouraging words about him as a teammate, a player. Look, come on, I don’t want to hear anybody talk — this guy’s got talent. You see that on the field. Running, got a good arm. Yeah, he missed some passes tonight. It’s not a game of perfection.”
Simms did his share of work trying to sell the compelling nature of the game, which I get with announcers. But his sell-job on Gabbert was something else entirely. I don’t know if Jed York or Trent Baalke got in his ear this week, or if he just somehow thinks Gabbert has gotten a bum deal in his career, but he was there to put forth quite the case for Blaine Gabbert.
After the game, we got some significant candor from the NFL Network post-game analysts. Michael Irvin mentioned that it seemed odd the way Simms pushed Gabbert,a and Marshall Faulk followed by saying he was talking about Gabbert like they were related. You rarely see this kind of candor from an analyst talking about an announcer. But it was necessary because it was kind of ridiculous how much Simms was trying to build up Gabbert’s case as starter.
You can watch video of Irvin and Faulk below, and here’s a transcript of their comments.
Irvin: “I don’t wanna make this turn, but I have to. And I didn’t get a chance to say it while he was on air, and I will Tuesday when I see him at ‘Inside the NFL’. But, did anyone else feel kind of weird the way Phil Simms was talking about Blaine Gabbert, as we’re watching some of these passes? You know, he was talking about him as if this guy was the next coming of Tom Brady or somebody.”
Faulk: “He was talking about Blaine Gabbert like he was his relative.”