SANTA CLARA – Blaine Gabbert handled his demotion as 49ers starting quarterback like a professional, coach Chip Kelly said.
That does not mean Gabbert liked hearing the news in a meeting with his coach on Tuesday morning as the players arrived back at team headquarters after a four-day break.
“It sucks,” Gabbert said. “I don’t like it. I don’t like not playing. I’m very forward about that.
“But, at the same time, I’m going to work the same way I’ve always worked the three years I’ve been here. Put my best foot forward. Still continue to prepare. I’m not going to slack on the film work just because I’m not playing.”
Gabbert was named the 49ers’ starter for the opening of the regular season after winning a quarterback competition with Colin Kaepernick during training camp. Kaepernick missed nearly two weeks of practices in August due to arm fatigue.
But after the 49ers opened the regular season with a 28-0 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, the team went in a tailspin. The 49ers have lost four consecutive games, and the team’s passing offense ranks 31st in the league.
“I gave it my best shot,” said Gabbert, who will serve as the team's No. 2 quarterback. “It wasn’t good enough. We didn’t win enough football games. We didn’t score enough points on the offensive side of the ball. That’s the way it goes. It’s a tough situation and coach Kelly had to make a call.”
A year ago, Gabbert got his chance to replace Kaepernick in the ninth game. Gabbert was asked if five games was enough of a sample size, considering this is his first season in Kelly’s system.
“You never know,” Gabbert said. “I can’t answer that question. I just know I didn’t do enough in five games to keep the starting job. That’s just the way it goes. It’s a performance-based business. If you’re not performing at the highest level, you know you’re not going to play.”