The San Francisco 49ers will have a battle for the starting quarterback job, or at least that's the line touted by head coach Chip Kelly. He recently suggested that he has "no idea" who the starting quarterback will be, and said that the quarterback battle will develop throughout training camp. He made it clear that the 49ers have ample time to decide on a starter between Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick and potentially someone else.
But ... is that actually what's going to happen?
Everything that happened between Alex Smith and Kaepernick is something of a blur for me these days, but I recall quite clearly the biggest quarterback "battle" the 49ers had in recent years. That battle saw Shaun Hill, Alex Smith and J.T. O'Sullivan competing to be the top signal caller in Mike Martz's offense. As it turns out, it didn't end up being a real battle at all. Martz was familiar with O'Sullivan and the fix was in, even though he wasn't the better quarterback.
That offense was a complete disaster and it became clear all too quickly that the battle was a farce. Is that going to happen this time around?
Obviously, I've not been shy about my own opinions on Gabbert and guessing which player I want under center next season is not difficult. But I want to be clear that I'm not implying a fix is in for Gabbert, because I think Kelly has no reason to hold that kind of allegiance to the former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback.
But a guy like Kelly doesn't make any decisions, doesn't talk in any interviews and doesn't build a plan for the season without having a very good idea of what he plans to do. Kelly, from everything I've read, is the kind of guy who knows what he wants and I'd be shocked if he didn't already have a suspicion of his starting quarterback next season.
Whether that's Gabbert or Kaepernick, I have no idea. I think Kelly is smart enough to understand that Kaepernick is at a crossroads and if handled correctly, could pan out in a big way. He's also smart enough to know that Gabbert isn't the same bust that failed the Jaguars and is young enough to be at his own crossroads. It's a decision that I, were I a head coach, wouldn't want to have to make, especially in my first season with a new team.
I'm just not convinced this is all going to come down to an actual quarterback battle.