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Blaine Gabbert Heads 49ers Backup QB Battle

Posted Jul 14, 2014

49ers.com begins its training camp positional previews with a look at the team’s five-man signal-caller group.



Our training camp positional previews begin with a look at the team’s five-man signal-caller group.

LEADING OFF

- Colin Kaepernick is fresh off a six-year contract extension. He’s the clear leader in the quarterback room and has continued taking steps as a vocal leader on the offensive side of the ball. Kaepernick’s command of the offense was evident throughout the offseason as he helped line up offensive teammates while running the show. Kaepernick enters 2014 looking to build on a solid debut season as the team’s full-time starter.

- Behind Kaepernick, the 49ers will have a four-man competition to find a backup quarterback. Blaine Gabbert, whom San Francisco traded for this offseason, appears to be the clubhouse leader. The Jacksonville Jaguars 10th overall pick in the ’11 draft, however, faces stiff competition from experienced reserves Josh Johnson and McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Undrafted rookie Kory Faulkner rounds out the quarterback battle set to take place in camp.

- The 49ers hired quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. as part of the team’s coaching internship program. Whitfield Jr. trained many high-profile quarterbacks for the NFL Scouting Combine; Cleveland Browns rookie Johnny Manziel is his most recent pupil. With the 49ers, Whitfield Jr. has utilized his vast array of quarterback drills, which emphasize footwork and throwing mechanics. He also does them in conjunction and not at the expense of quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Gabbert.

We know all about Kaepernick and his growth with Jim Harbaugh by his side. Instead of writing more copy on the 49ers top passer, let’s devote some space to Gabbert, who impressed his new coaches this offseason by instantly picking up the 49ers system. “He’s been very good, very solid,” Harbaugh said on June 17.

Gabbert started 28 games for Jacksonville. He was drafted 26 spots ahead of Kaepernick but never had the same opportunity to develop as the 49ers passer. Gabbert appeared in 15 games as a rookie; Kaepernick played in just three games that season. Gabbert was eventually lifted from the Jaguars starting lineup – Kaepernick worked his way to move atop San Francisco’s depth chart. Now that Gabbert has a chance to learn a new system and hone his craft, perhaps he experiences a career renaissance under the guidance of numerous quarterback specialists, Harbaugh and Whitfield Jr. included.  

EXTRA POINTS

Faulkner was personally scouted by Harbaugh and Chryst and was praised by the head coach for being “good-boned.” Faulkner probably drinks a lot of milk… Johnson spent the ‘12 offseason with the 49ers and was among the team’s final roster cuts… Bethel-Thompson spent the second half of the ‘13 season on San Francisco’s practice squad. The quarterback dubbed “McBLT” by one 49ers beat writer was part of Harbaugh’s original training camp roster in ’11 but was waived prior to regular season… All of the quarterbacks on the field means Harbaugh won’t be an active passer during training camp drills… The team utilized a new throwing target net during minicamp practices...

WATCH THIS

 
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