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Blaine Gabbert Eager to Compete for 49ers Starting QB Job

Blaine Gabbert started the final eight games of the season last year for the San Francisco 49ers.

After wrapping up the first day of OTAs on Tuesday, the quarterback addressed the pressing question on most minds: Will he remain under center come Week 1 in 2016?

"The opportunity is in front of me to go out there and have a great season," Gabbert said. "I look at that challenge as one I'm willing to accept. Nothing is ever going to be given to you, especially in the National Football League. You've got to go out there and take it.

"That's my mindset. I'm never going to shy away from competition. You're always competing, whether it's against somebody or against yourself, and I welcome that."

As Gabbert alluded to, the quarterback job appears to be a battle between himself and Colin Kaepernick. Thad Lewis and Jeff Driskel round out the 49ers depth at the position.

Due to multiple offseason procedures, Kaepernick has yet to participate in practices this spring. Still, the signal-caller has been present at the team's facility throughout the offseason program – studying the new offense in the classroom and taking mental reps while on the field.

Despite the competition that figures to eventually take place between the two, Gabbert told reporters his relationship with Kaepernick has remained positive.

"It's been normal," Gabbert said. "His focus right now is rehab, and my focus right now is learning the offense, being in the weight room, being with the guys on the football field.

"It's been great. We're in the meetings together, we're in the locker room together and we're out there working out and getting better together."

Earlier on Tuesday, first-year coach Chip Kelly reiterated that there is no timetable for when a starter will be announced. Until a decision is made, Gabbert plans to attack practices as if the job is his.

"I don't think I have to tread lightly at all," Gabbert said. "Being a quarterback, you have to be a leader and you have to be the vocal guy on the football team. It's about directing this offense. That's the thing that I enjoy. I like being the guy that guys look to for advice or to get them lined up – just providing a little juice on the field."

For Gabbert, Kelly's arrival marks the sixth offense he has learned in as many NFL seasons. Although the upheaval has been challenging at times, it has also made Gabbert a better student.

In those aforementioned eight starts last year, Gabbert completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,031 yards, 10 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a quarterback rating of 86.2. The 26-year-old spent the slow part of the offseason studying gametape of his 2015 performances.

Now that the 49ers are back at work, Gabbert has been implementing a few adjustments to improve his game.

"I feel I'm getting pretty good at it," he said. "What you put into it is what you get out. You've just got to work diligently through the week, especially off the field, even before the meetings start. You're going to get asked questions and you want to be on top of your game. When you get out on the field, you don't want to be thinking."

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