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49ers Players React to Blaine Gabbert Starting vs. Falcons

A few hours after Jim Tomsula announced that Blaine Gabbert will start on Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers locker room provided its reaction to the quarterback change.

Among the players who spoke were Torrey Smith, Bruce Miller and Marcus Martin.

And although no one placed the blame on Colin Kaepernick for the team's 2-6 record, all three players voiced confidence in Gabbert stepping into the starting role.

"This doesn't fall 100 percent on Kap," Smith said. "Unfortunately at the quarterback position, when things aren't going well, you're going to be the person who is going to be evaluated the most and the hardest.

"It's on us now to try to continue to grow and see if the change adds a spark. But at the end of the day, if we don't go out there and execute, it doesn't matter who is back there."

Gabbert made 27 starts for the Jacksonville Jaguars between 2011-2013. He has served as Kaepernick's backup ever since being traded to San Francisco in March of 2014.

Behind the scenes, Gabbert's teammates said they saw the quarterback continuously growing as a passer. 

"He's a guy that's very comfortable in our offense," Smith said. "He's confident in his skill set, and he can make every throw. He's been doing a good job in practice over the weeks and even in the offseason. He's been working hard, so we'll see what he does with his chance."

Like Smith, Miller also used the word "confident" when describing Gabbert.

"He that kind of player," Miller said. "He's determined (and) a good commander when he's under center and calling the plays and making things happen. So I'm excited to see him work." 

Against the Atlanta Falcons this week, Gabbert will take snaps from Martin, who complimented the signal-caller's knowledge of the offense. 

"Blaine is very vocal. He tells you his opinion and what he thinks about things," Martin said. "He's a great leader and a great quarterback. I look forward to embracing him and doing what it takes for us to win."

Also of note from San Francisco's supporting cast was their take on how Kaepernick has handled the decision to start Gabbert.

"I know it had to hurt because no one likes to lose their job anywhere in the world no matter what your profession is," Smith said. "(Kaepernick) is a competitor, so I know it's tough, but he's handled it like a pro. That says a lot about him."

Even when the offense struggled, players said they gave Kaepernick their best effort. That will not change with Gabbert running the huddle. 

"We're going to rally around Blaine the same way we rallied around Kap," Smith said. "It doesn't matter, we'd do the same if (rookie quarterback Dylan Thompson) was back there."

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