Leading up to the 2014 season at 49ers.com, we'll get to know new and intriguing players. We start our series with quarterback
1. He was the 10th overall pick in the 2011 Draft for a reason.
Actually, a few reasons, the first being his physicality. At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Gabbert has "arm talent" to borrow football scouts' jargon. There's his mentality too. As 49ers general manager Trent Baalke noted in the release announcing the transaction, Gabbert is also a "high-character individual" whom San Francisco thought highly of three years ago.
2. He's not as fast as
Gabbert rushed for 458 yards and eight touchdowns during his junior season at Missouri, the campaign that launched him as a prospect. He ran a 4.62 at the Scouting Combine; Kaepernick ran a 4.53. So far in the NFL, Gabbert's mostly been running from his pursuers; he was sacked 40 times during his rookie season, the third-highest total in the NFL. Although, he hasn't rushed for more than 20 yards in any of his 28 games, he has the ability to move the chains when plays break down.
3. He gained valuable experience in Jacksonville.
Like Kaepernick, Gabbert came to the NFL after playing a non-pro-style offense in college and had to learn to take snaps under center. Unlike Kaepernick, he started only two seasons in the amateur ranks and didn¹t have the fortune of playing behind an established starter in his first season as a pro. Gabbert took over for Jaguars incumbent Luke McCown in Week 3 of the '11 campaign. All those sacks and errant passes, including 11 interceptions, should help him going forward. Like with Colt McCoy in 2013, the 49ers are getting a backup quarterback with starting experience and room to improve.
4. He showed his talents in the Jaguars 2012 opener.
In his best single start, Gabbert was 23-of-39 passing for 260 yards and two touchdowns in a narrow defeat to the Minnesota Vikings. Yes, it's safe to say Gabbert himself would say his career hasn't gotten off to the best start overall, but he's demonstrated his ability in spurts. Consider too that he's still just 24 years old.
5. He is on an Alex Smith-like path.
Comparing players isn't fair. Jim Harbaugh says this. We know this. But it's hard to ignore the overlap between Smith, the 49ers starter before Kaepernick took over, and Gabbert, who will now battle to back up "Kap." Both were high first-round draft picks; both had their progress slowed by a major shoulder injury Gabbert tore the labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder in 2012; and both were given a second chance to succeed. Gabbert acknowledged this overlap during a conference call with reporters: "He’s a guy that you look at and you’d like to emulate yourself after. Seeing the struggles that he went through early on his career with all the changes that were going on around him and the way he’s persevered through injuries and through all those changes to put himself in the best position right now."
- READ: Free Agency Tracker
- READ: Truth About Free Agency Rumors
- READ: Bethea Makes Solid First Impression
- READ: Cook to Compete with Young CBs
- READ: Martin Looks to Revitalize Career in SF
- READ: Draft Peers Gabbert, Kaepernick Reunite
- WATCH: Bethea Wired for Sound
- WATCH: Bethea 1-on-1 Exclusive Interview
- WATCH: Martin 1-on-1 Exclusive Interview