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Blaine Gabbert discusses up & down performance, rapport with Vance McDonald

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The San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback had an inconsistent performance on Sunday. He discussed the ups and downs of the opener. We have a full transcript, and you can view video here.

The San Francisco 49ers first team offense got off to a shaky start on Sunday, with Blaine Gabbert unable to complete three of his first four passes. The drive closed with a big play, a 43-yard catch and run by Vance McDonald, but it was clear there are issues to resolve.

After the game, Chip Kelly and Blaine Gabbert agreed that the quarterback’s performance was up and down. They both tried to focus on the positives of getting into a rhythm, and the big play from Vance McDonald, but they acknowledged there is a lot to work on.

Here is a full transcript of what Gabbert had to say after the game.

Your head coach described your performance, the first team offense’s performance, as up and down. How would you characterize today?

“I agree completely. We didn’t start the way we wanted to, but it was definitely nice to score a touchdown there on that third drive. We’re going to watch the film, kind of see where we made some errors early on and just get better from it. It was the first game and there’s a lot to look forward to going into next week.”

How did you feel about your performance? What can you put your finger on as far as how you played?

“Just like [49ers head coach Chip] coach Kelly said, there was ups and downs, but we saw, when we got into the groove, what we can do as a unit. [TE] Vance [McDonald] made a tremendous play there after the catch and it was good to get a touchdown on the board there on our last drive.”

The first two series you had RB Carlos Hyde, two throws, and then WR Quinton Patton on the slant and you misfired on those. Was that just beginning of the game jitters or what was going on there?

“No, I wouldn’t say that at all. I missed one to Carlos early and then we just have to work something out there on the backside. They were bringing pressure. It’s just a hot answer and we both have to be on the same page there and see the ball and catch the ball.”

How would you assess this as an opening exhibition game?

“It was fun to get out there and get our feet wet in this system. Games are a lot different than practice and to see the tempo that we can play at, to see the level that we can execute at when we are rolling. There’s definitely some good things on that film. But like I said earlier, there’s a lot of ups and downs and definitely things that we can correct from the film and that we will going into next week.”

What was your reaction when Chip wanted to go for it on fourth down on your own side of the field?

“It was great. I was giving him the ‘let’s go for it.’ Fourth-and-short and Carlos did a great job, the offensive line and tight ends did a great job of opening up a hole and I think we scratched out five or six yards there. It was just a tough, hardnosed run. Any time you can convert a fourth down, kind of that jump the ball situation where we stayed in the same personnel group and just went for it. It’s a big momentum boost for the offense.”

How did it feel playing in that up-tempo thing?

“It was great. But, you kind of saw, when you go three-and-out, what it can do. When we get rolling and string together a bunch of quality plays and have extended drives, it puts such pressure on the defense to make plays. When we’re rolling like that you can call any play and we’re going to make it work.”

How was that, just the operational aspect of it, getting the plays and keeping tempo? Was it different than practice? Did you feel prepared for it?

“Yeah, no question. The way we practice prepares you for the game. We try to make practice as hard as possible so that when we get to the game it’s easy, it’s fun. You’re going out there and you’re playing ball with the guys. The offensive line saw the effect that our up-tempo offense has on the defense and they liked it.”

You’ve worked behind this offensive line combination a little bit during camp. What have you seen out of those guys?

“They’re doing a tremendous job. Just to see the consistent improvement from that first veteran minicamp to now the first preseason game, the level of communication, the camaraderie, the chemistry that those guys have built throughout the summer and training camp has been tremendous.”

Chip describes what he’s evaluating in quarterbacks, decision making. It’s always decision making. Quick decisions, right decisions. Is that what he tells you? Is that how you’re being evaluated?

“Yeah, no question. I think playing the quarterback position is based off decision making. You’ve got to make smart, fast and quick decisions, take care of the football and not turn the ball over. But, the biggest thing is just distribute the ball to the guys. Let the guys on the outside, the running backs, tight ends, wide receivers, make plays. And you just do that with accuracy and decision making.”

Where does downfield throwing fit into that when he’s evaluating? Does he put that on the list he wants to see or is that kind of down?

“No, I think if you’re forcing balls downfield that aren’t open that goes back into that decision-making category. So, what we look at as a quarterback group; are you making the right decision, is your process pre-snap and post-snap correct and then you just have to deliver the ball on time.”

Were you able to watch the video on the sideline during the game?

“On the Surface?”

Yeah.

“Yeah, it was actually pretty cool. We would come off on the sideline after the series and they would have it uploaded. So you have the still pictures, then you double click the still pictures and watch the video of that play. I think that was a big asset for our guys to see the play develop in real-time right after you ran it.”

When you were watching it, how was your decision making? Was the ball going where it should have gone?

“Yeah. I have to watch the film again. You’re kind of flying on the sideline going back and forth. But, for the most part, the quarterbacks delivered the ball where it needed to be delivered.”

The touchdown throw to Vance, that’s your final one for the game. What kind of confidence does that give you moving forward?

“Yeah, we just wanted to end on a high note. We wanted to go out, kind of set the tone for how this season’s going to go. And like I said, there were ups and downs in those first two drives, things that we can correct, things that we inflicted on ourselves. But, we got the touchdown. We strung a bunch of quality plays together. And like I said, the O-Line gave me plenty of time there, Vance ran a great route and did a tremendous job after the catch scoring a touchdown. ”

You’ve had a good rapport with Vance since you became the starter in Week 8 last year. What is it about him and about you and him that clicks out there?

“I think just having familiarity with the personnel groups that you have out there. Vance has done a tremendous job since last season, throughout the summer and training camp running routes, blocking well and catching the football. Any time you can lean on a tight end to get open in the middle of the field those guys are mismatch nightmares on linebackers. He’s been doing a great job and you saw his speed and athletic ability after the catch tonight.”