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Geep Chryst Evaluates the State of 49ers Offense

The San Francisco 49ers offensive starting lineup will look very different on Sunday.

There will be changes at quarterback, tight end, running back, and perhaps at wide receiver and on the offensive line.

Here's the summary of what's gone down since the 49ers last played against the St. Louis Rams on Nov.1:

Blaine Gabbert has been named the starting quarterback for Colin Kaepernick. Pierre Thomas and Shaun Draughn were added in the backfield to help offset injuries to Pierre Garçon (foot), Reggie Bush (knee, placed on Injured Reserve) and Mike Davis (hand surgery). Vernon Davis was traded to the Denver Broncos before the NFL trade deadline, which means Garrett Celek and Blake Bell will see increased roles on Sunday. Garrett Celek's status is unknown due to the concussion he suffered against the Rams. Anquan Boldin (hamstring) has not practiced this week. If he's unable to play, will it be Quinton Patton or Jerome Simpson in the starting lineup? Left guard Alex Boone (knee) did not practice on Thursday. The 49ers could be working in new offensive line combinations this week, too.

That was a mouthful.

At 2-6 and in need of a victory, offensive coordinator Geep Chryst commented on the team's new-look offense in Week 9.

In regards to the running backs, Chryst outlined the learning curve both NFL veterans are going through this week.

"We're trying to get those guys ramped up," Chryst said. "Pierre's played in that NFC South (and) has been productive, but we like Shaun, too, and they've really done a nice job with (running backs coach) Tom Rathman of learning the playbook, doing what's required to be ready to be active both hopefully on Sunday."

Determining how the playing time will be divded between the two and Kendall Gaskins will be made based on practice production, according to San Francisco's play-caller.

"I would fully expect that they'll have command of the game plan," Chrys said. "They don't need to know the training camp playbook, but command of the game plan. And probably have to see them on the field in practice and probably, hopefully, look forward to seeing them play on the field on Sunday."

As for the offensive line, Chryst said that young players will have to earn their way into the starting lineup.

"We're valuing the practice reps," Chryst said. "We're trying to give some of these young guys, like we talked last week, an opportunity to earn it. But you still have to earn it within the community of the team. And that's where the practice reps are important."

The 49ers reserve offensive line depth includes 2014 third-round draft pick Brandon Thomas, and sixth- and seventh-round selections in this year's draft, guard Ian Silberman and tackle Trent Brown.

Chryst was asked heavily about the biggest change of the week: Gabbert in for Kaepernick at quarterback. Chryst had a lot to say on the subject, too.

"Colin has had a high expectation for himself to win football games and when you're dealt challenges, it's harder to win that football game," the coordinator said. "You put not only pressure on yourself, you become frustrated when the games aren't wins.

"So Colin's a hard-worker. He hasn't worked any less hard. He's applied himself in the way that he plays the game in a lot of the same ways, but it's a team sport and I think it's important that we all understand that just because Blaine happens to be in there, we're not trying to say, 'Lose QB, blame QB, tape at 11.' It's a more overarching thing that we've got to get things solved and we're willing to try anything, including a new quarterback at a position to try to get us going."

Chryst also shared a lengthy assessment of Gabbert, who will make his first start since 2013 when he was with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Last year I thought he practiced well, but in the preseason games he got a little skittish, a little 'I'm not ready for this,'" Chryst said. "With another year within the system, another year within the organization, which is always more comforting, I thought he had a really good preseason.

"His attributes are different. When he played well, whether it was at Missouri, whether he played well in Jacksonville or in our preseason games or on the practice field, he does get the ball out differently. That's just his style of play. We'll see if that matches up with a spark that we want to get in terms of the pass game getting the ball out.

"But our charge is to still get the run game going to get the play-action going and mix that in with some passes. And it'll be some quick passes as well as some down the field stuff. That's just what a game plan has in football. We have to let it play out. By no means are we saying this point moving forward this is anything of a permanent or etched into granite nature. But where we are as an offense we've got to do something and we'll leave no stone unturned trying to come up with a plan to win on Sunday.

"And we're excited about it. We're excited about these young running backs. We're excited to see what Blaine will do given the opportunity and we're working hard to try to get that win on Sunday."

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