Blaine Gabbert and the San Francisco 49ers are looking to snap a two-game losing streak this Sunday.
To do it, the home team will need to establish offensive rhythm against a Dallas Cowboys club that has won its last two outings.
Gabbert knows all eyes are on him this week. He was prepared for the line of questioning he faced in his mid-week press conference. The 49ers quarerback pointed to his past experiences in how he'll handle the chatter surrounding his job security.
"Everybody is going to have their judgment on whatever you do," the sixth-year pro said. "People are going to pick it apart. Right, wrong, good, bad or indifferent. That's just kind of the nature of the beast that we're in."
Chip Kelly pointed to the execution of all 11 players on offense needing to be better. It's not just about the quarterback, the coach explained.
For Gabbert, the key is not letting the outside commentary disrupt his work ethic.
"You stick to your routine," Gabbert said. "It's not my first rodeo going through this. Everybody has their own opinions. Everybody has the best answers for what's going on. But, it's up to the guys in that building. It's up to the 11 guys on the field on offense to get this thing right. The way to do that is just stick to your routine, stick to your preparation, stick to the way you practice throughout the week and the beautiful thing about the NFL is you've got a game on Sunday. It's a quick turnaround and we're just focused on the Cowboys."
Gabbert has thrown for 532 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions on the year. The 49ers offense has converted 34.8 percent of its third-down conversions, which ranks 24th in the NFL. The third-down topic will come into greater discussion this week against a Dallas team that leads the NFL with a 52.5 conversion rate.
Gabbert shed light into how San Francisco prepares for the all important down. He explained that the 49ers review each opponent's defensive tendencies on third downs, specifically the pressures they typically run. In doing so, the 49ers are able to identify plays that will be successful.
"At the end of the day, when we go out there we have to execute whether it's 3rd-and-1 or 3rd-and-15," Gabbert said. "We've got to go out there and execute the play and try and achieve that first down. I'm not saying you're going to get it every single time because that's unrealistic. That's what we're striving for, but at the same time we have to do the best of our ability of getting to the sticks on third down. Whether it's a catch and knife in a zone coverage, beating man coverage on a shallow cross, or if it's 3rd-and-7, let's say, you hit an end cut past the sticks. It just depends on kind of how the game flow is going, what coverages they are running and the play that's called."
Gabbert has been sacked two times on 96 pass attempts so far this year. In comparison, the 49ers allowed eight sacks in the three games to start the 2015 season.
So how does a quarterback balance wanting to deliver the football quickly to avoid sacks or letting the play develop to attack the back half of a defense?
"Any offense is based on rhythm and timing," Gabbert answered. "When a guy is open, if he's my first, second or third read the ball is going to come out. That's football. You're not going to hold onto the ball hoping some guy down the field gets open per se, that's not really in your first three reads. ... When your guys get open, give them the ball and then let them do what they do best and that's go make plays after the catch."
The 49ers offense will benefit from playing at home. The unit can mix up cadences, something they couldn't do in back-to-back loud road environments.
San Francisco will play two home games in a five-day span. The Dallas game will be followed by a "Thursday Night Football" contest against the Arizona Cardinals.
"You get into a routine," Gabbert said. "You get into a rhythm. You're at home. So you don't have to travel. Not using that as an excuse by any means, but we're here, we're in our routine, home game, playing in front of our fans. It's a thing that we can definitely lean on."