Since taking over as starting quarterback in Week 9, Blaine Gabbert's consistent play has gained the respect of the San Francisco 49ers locker room.
Apparently, it's also earned the approval of a certain Hall of Famer who came long before him.
In an interview with the Sporting News on Wednesday, Joe Montana praised Gabbert's recent performances, in which the quarterback has posted a 2-2 record and thrown for five touchdowns, three interceptions and a passter rating of 89.5.
"I think he's done a great job going in under the circumstances, where the team is and how many people they've lost to injuries," Montana said. "Some people would say it's easier because you're losing and there's only upside, but there's still a lot of pressure to perform when you go in. When you make a change like that, you expect the backup to play well."
To some, the most surprising element of Gabbert's game has been his athleticism. The signal-caller has moved well in the pocket and scrambled when he's needed to, totaling 140 yards on the ground in four outings. His best run came last week in Chicago when he cut through the middle of the Bears defense for a game-tying 44-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"He has the athleticism to make defenses think about his running," Montana said. "If things break down, he can still get out of trouble and make plays downfield, not only with his arm, but his legs, too."
Barring injury, Gabbert will start the final four games of the regular season for the 49ers. After that, the future at the position figures to be reevaluated in the offseason. Gabbert is under contract through 2016.
"He's definitely some(one) you need to keep around," Montana said. "He's proved he can not only play at the level to win games, but also in that offense. That's key in proving his worth to the team. I don't know what will happen with Colin (Kaepernick) or what their plans are with him, but at this point at time, I don't think you let Blaine get away."