and Cam Newton have a few things in common.
They each were top-10 selections in the 2011 NFL Draft. But most important of all, they'll share the field this Sunday when the San Francisco 49ers visit the Carolina Panthers.
The matchup between sixth-year signal-callers is fascinating on many levels. Gabbert is looking to continue his recent ascending play. Newton, on the other hand, wants to maintain his MVP status from in 2015.
Gabbert's 2016 debut was a positive one, according to 49ers coach Chip Kelly.
"We have all the confidence in the world in him," Kelly said of Gabbert, who threw for 170 yards and one touchdown in a 28-0 home win over the Los Angeles Rams on "Monday Night Football."
Kelly scoffed at questions about Gabbert's willingness to throw into coverage.
"You look at the ball he threw to Vance for the touchdown," Kelly began, "he ripped that one in there. He threw a couple to Quinton Patton
on the out route where we had some big plays when we needed to get some things generated. Again, first game in our system, understanding what he’s doing. First real live game. There were some real positives that we can build upon with him.”
The coach maintained his stance of giving all of his players, Gabbert included, a clean slate for the 2016 season. Kelly has no interest in looking back at what Gabbert did in the early stages of his NFL career when he was selected nine picks behind Newton.
"Three years ago we weren’t around him, so I don’t really know what went on nor do we even talk about that," Kelly said. "We just talk about his growth and development in what we’re doing, and I see him getting better."
Kelly believes the 49ers can build on Gabbert's performance against the Rams. San Francisco's signal-caller did not turn the ball over, nor was he sacked on 35 pass attempts. The 49ers converted touchdowns on all four red-zone trips. Gabbert also rushed the ball nine times for 43 yards, making him a viable run threat to compliment the 88 hard-earned yards from running back Carlos Hyde
Gabbert's run-pass ability has made him a strong fit in Kelly's scheme, which features many zone-read plays. San Francisco's quarterback, however, is not the same rushing threat as Newton. The Panthers superstar rushed for 10 touchdowns last season. He also picked up 54 yards and a rushing score in a heart-breaking Week 1 road loss to the Denver Broncos.
Kelly noted what it's going to take to be succesful against a Newton-led offense this Sunday in Carolina.
"I think it takes 11 (defenders)," Kelly said. "He’s a very rare athlete in that there aren’t many people that are that accurate throwing the football, that can run as well as he can run and have that size.
"Very rarely does the first person get Cam to the ground. If he is running the ball, we have to gang tackle. We’re going to have to get everybody running to the football and swarm him."Niners Notes
-- Rookie cornerback Rashard Robinson
played as a perimeter defender in nickel sub packages. The fourth-round pick wasn't targeted in the game. Kelly had a classic answer when explaining why. "They just said, ‘Hey, he’s a rookie out there. He’s the best in the league, so we aren’t going to throw on him.’ No, it was just kind of how it worked out. I don’t think they specifically stayed away from him for any reason, but when he was out there he just didn’t have the ball thrown his way. He was solid in coverage and was close in everything he had to do."
-- The 49ers coaching staff reviewed the Panthers Week 1 loss on Sunday and Monday morning, Kelly said. "It’s just the same thing I think everybody does when you have a Monday night game," Kelly explained. "You know you’re going to be short, but you can steal a little bit of film prep time in the days before, because those are long days... I think our coaches are all caught up from a film standpoint.”
-- Anthony Davis
' role on the team was clarified by Kelly. "He’s got to be able to play everything just like anybody who’s a backup," the coach said. "We only have two guys up, so if both guards went down last night, he’s going to have to go in at guard."
-- Joshua Garnett
, the second of two first-round draft picks for the 49ers, was inactive on Monday. Kelly said it had much to do with the versatility of the backup linemen they dressed, Davis and Marcus Martin
, who can play a variety of positions on the offensive line. "Josh is extremely close and is as close to playing as he is to being inactive just because we’re dressing seven (players)," Kelly said. "The difference between Josh Garnett and Marcus Martin right now is that Marcus Martin can play center and guard where Josh has just been exclusively trained at guard just because he just got here."