BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Colin Kaepernick’s status has ranked near the top of the list of NFL storylines this offseason.
But while there is still no certainty where Kaepernick will play this season, there is no question Blaine Gabbert will be involved in the 49ers’ quarterback competition that will play out before the opening of the regular season.
Coach Chip Kelly, who has been asked often about Kaepernick, shared his thoughts about Gabbert on Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings while fielding a question from CSNBayArea.com in Boca Raton, Florida.
“(I’m) impressed with Blaine,” said Kelly, who met with Gabbert once in person and talked to him multiple times over the phone since taking the job. “You watch him the last couple of games he started. He’s another guy, you look at his skill set. He took off against the Bears and went (44) yards for a touchdown. He ran 4.61 in the combine when he was coming out.
“He’s big. I’d never really dealt with Blaine because he came into the league before I came into the league, but just how big and physical and impressive he is. He’s a 6-4, 245-pound guy that can really run. I thought the last part of the season he played really well. It’ll be intriguing to work with him, too.”
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If Kaepernick remains with the team this offseason, there will be a competition involving at least those two players.
“I think there’s competition everywhere,” Kelly said. “We haven’t seen anybody in terms of our staff working with them. Day 1 it’s a blank slate for the entire group. Let’s get out there and run around and see where it is.”
The 49ers do not appear to be interested in adding another quarterback at this time. General manager Trent Baalke said the organization has no contact with former Washington quarterback Robert Griffin, who signed with the Browns Thursday morning.
“Right now, we’re focused on some other things,” Baalke said. “Will there come a time when we sit down? That certainly could happen, but it hasn’t happened to this point.”
When asked why the 49ers had not touched base with Griffin, Kelly said, “I think we probably need to figure out what’s going on with Kap before we make any decisions. That’s really where we are from a quarterback standpoint. But I’d like to be able to work with Kap and Blaine when we get going in April.”
Gabbert and Kaepernick started eight games apiece last season. Gabbert completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 2,031 yards in 282 attempts with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions for an 86.2 passer rating. Kaepernick completed 59 percent of his 244 attempts for 1,615 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions for a passer rating of 78.5.
Kelly blamed Kaepernick’s slip in play last season on injuries that required surgeries to his left shoulder, right thumb and left knee.
“I think the biggest misconception that people don’t realize with Kap is just injuries,” Kelly said. “It’s not like his skillset diminished. He went on injured reserve last year, so he was only available for eight games. He was legitimately injured.”