Blaine Gabbert wasn't handed the starting quarterback job for the San Francisco 49ers.
He earned it.
Whe the 49ers host the Los Angeles Rams on "Monday Night Football," Gabbert will be making his first Week 1 start in three seasons.
"These opportunities don't come very often," the sixth-year pro said on Thursday. "They are few and far between. I know that (about) being a starter, not being a starter now being a starter again. You really just have to enjoy it and make the most of the opportunity."
Gabbert, 26, was named San Francisco's starting quarterback over the weekend. It's fitting that that the Missouri native will face the Rams, who left St. Louis for Los Angeles after a 21-year absence from Southern California.
The choice to give Gabbert the first-team reps to open the year was made because of his body of work throughout the offseason and his ability to lead the offense.
"I think the one thing about Blaine and that you admire is there's a consistency to him in his approach," the coach said. "I think he approaches every day kind of similar, which is what you want out of all your players."
Chip Kelly offered another compliment for the 6-foot-4, 235-pound passer.
"I think he's got an outstanding work ethic," Kelly said. "He obviously has the athleticism and the skillset to be a quarterback, but you continue to see him on a daily basis how much film he studies, how much time he's in this building, how much work he does on his craft.
"It's a lot of fun to watch a guy that spends that much time trying to make himself better get the opportunity that he's earned on Monday night."
Gabbert finished the final eight weeks of the 2015 regular season as San Francisco's starter. He finished his best season as a pro completing 28-of-44 passes for a career-high, 354 passing yards and one touchdown in a Week 17 home victory against the very same team he'll face on "Monday Night Football."
"They are a well-coached, hard-nosed, tough defense to go against," Gabbert said of this year's version of the NFC West foe. "And they have some tremendous playmakers. … We've got to focus on the things that we can control and dictate the style of game it's going to be."
Gabbert built on the 2015 season finale by exuding starter-like confidence this offseason. For the 49ers quarterback, it was the same way he carried himself when he entered the league as a high-profile draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"I just try to be the same guy every day and come and put my best foot forward, apply myself, try to learn, eager to learn, and just kind of that continued improvement from day one until now," Gabbert said. "I'm not going to change who I am throughout the year. I'm going to stick to my routine, stick to what I know and just keep trying to master this offense and win some football games."
Gabbert's upcoming start will be much different than his last regular season appearance. San Francisco looks different on offense. The offensive line is much improved with the signing of Zane Beadles in free agency at guard, the return of Anthony Davis and the emergence of Trent Brown at right tackle. Pierre Garçon is healthy after appearing in five games last season. The pass-catchers, too, have changed in recent weeks. Still, Torrey Smith and Quinton Patton figure to be the leading receivers.
Then there's Kelly, the innovator.
"I think he's a tremendous play-caller and the feel that he has for games is something that I've never been around," Gabbert said. "And all of our coaches are like that. They are very adaptive and they call what works, and it's been really fun to work with them. It's only going to continue to be more fun throughout the season when we start really dialing some plays up."