View photos from Levi's Stadium during the 49ers third preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.
Colin Kaepernick made his highly anticipated preseason debut on Friday night.
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback had a short night of work as did Blaine Gabbert in a 21-10 defeat to the Green Bay Packers. Gabbert got the start for a third straight week, but both signal-callers split reps with the first-team offense during the first two quarters of the game.
For more on the team's quarterback competition and other key notes of the night, let's take a look at what we learned from the third preseason game of 2016.
Kaepernick Makes Preseason Debut With 14:52 on the clock in the second quarter, Kaepernick took the field with the first-team offense. Chip Kelly elected to keep the starting offensive line, receivers and Pierre Garçon on the field with No. 7.
Kaepernick picked up a first down by rifling a 12-yard comeback pass to DeAndrew White. It was his best throw of the night. San Francisco's offense, however, was forced to punt after the next set of downs. Kaepernick's next two series also resulted in punts.
Kaepernick finished the game 2-of-6 passing for 14 yards in the first half. He added 18 rushing yards on four, first-half carries. Rookie Jeff Driskel replaced the sixth-year veteran on San Francisco's opening drive of the second half.
Despite not being on the field for the first two preseason games of 2016, it was a good sign that Kaepernick's right shoulder was healthy, allowing him to play in a game for the first time since Nov. 1, 2015.
It'll be interesting to see if Kaepernick's playing time increases in the preseason finale against the San Diego Chargers.
First-team Defense Sits Key Veterans
Besides keeping his top quarterbacks on the field for a brief amount of time, Kelly used the third preseason game to rest a trio of defensive starters.
NaVorro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks and Antoine Bethea were all given the night off. The 49ers opted to start Michael Wilhoite, Garrett Celek and Jaquiski Tartt at inside linebacker, outside linebacker and strong safety, respectively. San Francisco's mixed group of starters on defense had quite the challenge against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who made his 2016 preseason debut in the Bay Area.
The 49ers forced a Packers punt to begin the game, but Rodgers responded by leading his offense on a 14-play, 87-yard scoring drive. Green Bay running back James Starks converted a 4th-and-2 from San Francisco's 8-yard line.
On the next play, Rodgers hit Randall Cobb for a 6-yard touchdown pass.
Despite the scoring play, the 49ers held the Packers to 3-of-8 on third-down conversions in the first half. Carradine also recorded a sack on Packers backup quarterback Joe Callahan. The converted defensive tackle showed excellent speed around the left edge and wrapped up the signal-caller immediately at the end of his seven-step drop.
It's likely Jim O'Neil's defense will keep a similar look in the preseason finale against the Chargers. It's not likely that you'll see veterans like Bowman, Brooks and Bethea in the last regular season tuneup on Sept. 1.
Gabbert Misses Patton Early, Connects Later for TD
The deep ball was there for the taking and Gabbert just missed it on San Francisco's opening drive.
Quinton Patton beat Packers cornerback Sam Shields on a deep post down the left side of the field, but Gabbert's second-down pass from the pocket was just a yard too long. As a result, the 49ers went three-and-out on their opening drive for a third consecutive game. But Gabbert, like the two previous preseason games he started, managed to drive the offense down the field and punch in a touchdown.
It was fitting that Patton scored from three yards out on a backwards pass from Gabbert to give the home team an early 7-0 advantage. The five-play, 53-yard scoring drive was set up by a 27-yard scamper by Hyde. It's worth noting that veteran receiver Jerome Simpson had an excellent perimeter block on Shields to help escort Hyde down the left sideline.
Gabbert's brief night of work saw him complete 2-of-3 pass attempts for 14 yards. The deep ball to Patton was the one that got away. Gabbert, however, can claim that he's led the offense on three scoring drives and has not turned the ball over in his limited on-field action this preseason.
--Anthony Davis started his first NFL game (preseason or regular season) at right guard. Rookie Joshua Garnett joined the first-team offensive line on San Francisco's third possession.
-- Bruce Ellington returned Green Bay's first punt of the game 17 yards. He was later shaken up on a punt return in the second quarter and left the game with a hamstring injury. DeAndrew White replaced Ellingon at punt returner and at slot receiver.
-- Will Redmond and L.J. McCray made their respective preseason debuts. Both players had been slowly working back from their respective ACL injuries. McCray leveled Packers returner Michah Hyde with a solid tackle on Hyde's second kick-off return of the night. Redmond later sacked Callahan on a blitz in the fourth quarter.
-- Quinton Dial left the game in the second quarter due to a knee injury. He later walked into the locker room and was ruled out for the remainder of the game.
-- Eric Reid sustained a thumb injury on the same drive.
-- Marcus Rush continued his pass-rushing success with a third-quarter sack on Callahan. The third-down stop forced Green Bay to punt back to San Francisco late in the third quarter.
-- Driskel led a 9-play, 52-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 26-yard Phil Dawson field goal in the fourth quarter. The 18-year veteran has made at least one field goal in every preseason game this year.
Next up for the 49ers is the Week 4 preseason matchup with the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. The 49ers will open the 2016 regular season at home against the Los Angeles Rams.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Los Angeles Rams |BUY TICKETS