Blaine Gabbert Relishing Chance to be NFL Starter Once Again

Every backup quarterback in the NFL will tell you they prepare as if they're the starter every week. It's the only mindset that keeps signal-callers sharp enough to perform should their number be called at a moment's notice.

Blaine Gabbert is no different.

The San Francisco 49ers fifth-year quarterback credited two of his former teammates with the Jacksonville Jaguars for showing him how to approach each day.

"Luke McCown and Chad Henne taught me how to prepare as a young quarterback in the league," Gabbert told 49ers Studios in a sit-down interview. "Regardless of if you're playing or not playing, you have to stick to that routine because you never know when your shot is going to come.

Gabbert earned his shot in Week 9 when Jim Tomsula announced that he would start for the 49ers in a home game against the Atlanta Falcons. The opportunity marked Gabbert's first start since 2013 and his first in a 49ers uniform after being traded to San Francisco in 2014.

So while his week of preparation didn't change, Gabbert couldn't deny the adrenaline that was flowing as soon as he woke up on gameday.

"That's the rush that you always itch to have," the quarterback said. "To get back on the field as a starting quarterback was great, and I'm glad we pulled out the win."

In that 17-16 victory over the Falcons, Gabbert threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns on 15 completions. What's more impressive is that the quarterback completed 8-of-11 third-down throws, accounting for 115 yards and both of his touchdowns.

Even in victory, there's still plenty to improve on. The 49ers scored all 17 of their points in the first half and will need to work on sustaining that success throughout the game going forward.

"The biggest thing going into the second half is that we need to execute, and we didn't do that," Gabbert said. "We shot ourselves in the foot with two costly turnovers by myself, but we can learn from those.

"It's about taking care of the football. Whether we get 40 yards on the drive and a field goal, it's better than turning the football over."

The lasting memory of Gabbert's debut as San Francisco's starter came in the fourth quarter when he absorbed a crushing hit from Falcons linebacker Philip Wheeler. The quarterback immediately popped back up and returned to the huddle.

NFL protocol, however, deemed it necessary for Gabbert to exit the game and be evaluated for a concussion. It was impossible to miss an animated Gabbert pleading his case to stay in the game.

It only took two plays before the quarterback returned to action, earning some tough-guy points in San Francisco's locker room.

"I just wanted to stay out there," Gabbert said. "I was fired up at that point in time and probably said some things I shouldn't have said, but I just wanted to get back on the field."

Now entering his second start with the 49ers this Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, Gabbert points to his maturity as one of the biggest factors in earning his latest opportunity.

"I think just the experience I've gained throughout the last five years has been crucial, and it's been extremely important in my growth as a quarterback," Gabbert said. "There were a lot of ups and downs in Jacksonville, but at the same time, I learned from those experiences, and I try to apply that to this team."

Gabbert will be the 49ers starter in Week 11, but Jim Tomsula hasn't made any decisions past this Sunday. That means it could be a week-to-week situation to monitor going forward.

For Gabbert, he's only focusing on what he can control while still keeping his ultimate goal in mind: Get back to being a full-time NFL starter.

"Just take it one week at a time and just run with it," Gabbert said of his mindset for Sunday's NFC West clash. "I'm thankful for the opportunity to start, but at the same time, I want this to be a long-term deal. Week in and week out, I'm going to put my best foot forward and just out-work everybody."

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