Chip Kelly: 'I don't think Colin played poor' vs New England

Chip Kelly: 'I don't think Colin played poor' vs New England

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers are winless in Colin Kaepernick’s five starts, but coach Chip Kelly does not appear to be considering any change.

Kelly was asked after the 49ers’ 30-17 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday if Kaepernick is the team’s starting quarterback for the duration.

“Yeah, unless, we’re always evaluating every week,” Kelly said. “But I don’t think Colin played poor today.”

Kaepernick completed 16 of 30 passes for 206 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions on a rainy day at Levi’s Stadium. His passer rating was 97.4. Kaepernick also gained 32 yards rushing on four attempts.

In his five starts, Kaepernick has completed 53.1 percent of his passing attempts with seven touchdowns and two interceptions, and a passer rating of 85.0.

Blaine Gabbert started the first five games. He completed 58.0 percent of his attempts with five touchdowns and six interceptions and a passer rating of 69.6.

Kaepernick has gained 260 yards and a touchdown rushing, while Gabbert had 172 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

Gabbert has remained as the 49ers’ No. 2 quarterback during Kaepernick’s run as the starter. Third-stringer Christian Ponder has yet to suit up as one of the team’s 46 active players for any game this season.

Four 49ers players to watch Sunday vs. Rams

Four 49ers players to watch Sunday vs. Rams

Coming off a devastating loss to the Green Bay Packers on Monday night, the 49ers have a short turnaround to face the NFL’s only unbeaten team.

The Los Angeles Rams have the firepower on offense to make short work of the 49ers on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers are in the midst of a four-game losing streak and might be hard-pressed to remain competitive.

Here are four players who must come through with strong games in order for the 49ers to have a chance:

WR Marquise Goodwin

His presence on the field is one thing. But just being out there is not good enough. Goodwin must be able to provide the threat of a big play, which he accomplished against the Packers with touchdown receptions covering 67 and 30 yards.

Goodwin is a huge asset in the passing game for quarterback C.J. Beathard. His speed opens up the field for other targets to work underneath routes. But Goodwin also makes defenses play a little softer, which can be beneficial for the 49ers’ running game, too.

Goodwin sustained a deep thigh bruise early in the 49ers’ season opener at Minnesota. He is finally healthy, and that is a big boost to the offense.

FS Adrian Colbert

The 49ers rank last in the NFL with a minus-11 turnover margin. Most of the focus has been on the team’s offensive issues with holding onto the football. But the defense has not done its part, either. The 49ers must generate more takeaways.

Colbert has struggled this season, and this week coach Kyle Shanahan challenged him to step up his game.

“He has to get back to where he ended last year,” Shanahan said on “49ers Game Plan,” which airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3). “I thought he ended last year at a high level.

“He’s had some good moments, but he’s had some bad moments, also. I put a lot of pressure on him this week. He’s had a good week of practice, and I hope it’ll pay off for him in the game.”

LG Laken Tomlinson

The 49ers’ offensive line has been one of the team’s bright spots -- both in pass protection and run-blocking. While each of the team’s offensive linemen has played well, the 49ers are especially pleased with Tomlinson.

“Laken has taken a huge step with his second year in the scheme,” Shanahan said.

Tomlinson faces a huge challenge on Sunday against one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league. Aaron Donald signed a six-year, $135 million extension with the Rams before the start of the regular season. He leads the team with four sacks.

Donald has recorded each of his sacks this season while lined up over the left guard. Tomlinson must find a way to neutralize Donald’s quickness off the snap of the ball to open lanes in the running game as well as protect Beathard.

CB Ahkello Witherspoon

After a promising rookie season, Witherspoon has taken a noticeable step backward this season. Failing to nail down the starting job, Witherspoon has been benched for two games this season.

But he is expected to be back in the starting lineup against the Rams despite missing some practice time this week with a concussion.

Jimmie Ward started against the Packers and mostly played well, except for a busted coverage on the Packers’ first play of the game. Greg Mabin entered late in the game – instead of Witherspoon – when Ward exited with a hamstring injury.

Ward is not likely to be available, and Mabin struggled badly in his limited role. Now, Witherspoon gets another chance to see if he can seize the opportunity to win the starting job opposite of Richard Sherman, who is also listed as questionable for the game with a calf injury. Teams have ignored Sherman’s side of the field, so Witherspoon has to step up and make some plays when he gets his opportunities.

Jimmy Garoppolo is back in the building, already at 49ers meetings

Jimmy Garoppolo is back in the building, already at 49ers meetings

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo already is back at the facility attending meetings after his ACL surgery. 

In his final press conference before Sunday’s match-up with the Los Angeles Rams, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed that Garoppolo was back with his team. 

“He got back on Tuesday,” Shanahan said, “so Wednesday he’s been in all the team meetings and stuff, and it’s been good to have him around. He’s still on his crutches and everything, so he’s not going out to practice or anything.” 

Similar to practice, injured players typically are not allowed on the sidelines during games because of the risk of further injuries. As a result, Garoppolo could be at the stadium on game day but not out on the field. 

Shanahan seemed genuinely pleased to see his franchise quarterback back in the building when he gave an update on Garoppolo’s appearance. 

“It was good to see his face,” Shanahan said. “Definitely has grown his beard out a little bit. You can tell he’s been sitting in a hospital or in a bed most of his time. Good to have him back in the building.

"He needs to make a few more strides just healing from his surgery and things like that, and we will get him around a lot more.”

Going through a season-ending injury is traumatic, but Shanahan reported that Garoppolo seems to be in good spirits. 

“Seems good,” Shanahan said. “Seeing him in the meetings, just talking to him a little bit, you know, I think he’s happy to be back with the team and to get back in this with us.” 

The only silver lining of both running back Jerick McKinnon and Garoppolo both going through ACL rehabilitation is that they will be able to do it together.