SANTA CLARA –- Blaine Gabbert did not do much Friday night.

But, perhaps, that was his best way to ensure his spot as the team’s starting quarterback to open the regular season.

Gabbert started for the third consecutive time to open the exhibition season. And for the third straight time, he exited the game after being on the field for a 49ers touchdown drive.

Gabbert played two series before Colin Kaepernick replaced him early in the second quarter of the 49ers’ 21-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Friday at Levi’s Stadium.

[MAIOCCO: 49ers' Davis makes debut at right guard vs Packers]

Gabbert completed two of his three attempts for 14 yards in his abbreviated outing. Gabbert also gained 15 yards on two rushing attempts.

After a three-and-out, the 49ers put together a touchdown drive. In Gabbert’s eight preseason drives, the 49ers scored three touchdowns.

Running back Carlos Hyde ripped off a 27-yard run to set up Gabbert’s backward swing pass to Quinton Patton for a 3-yard touchdown -– a play that was officially ruled a touchdown run.

Kaepernick made his first appearance of the exhibition season after missing the first two games due to “arm fatigue.” He had not played since last November, when he was benched in favor of Gabbert and then opted for season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.


The rust was apparent.

[MAIOCCO: 49ers: Gabbert to start Friday night vs Packers]

Kaepernick completed just two of his six pass attempts for 14 yards. He also rushed four times for 18 yards. The 49ers managed just one first down in the three possessions with Kaepernick in charge.

Now, the question is whether the quarterback competition will last much longer.

Kaepernick could be expected to play in the 49ers’ final exhibition game, while coach Chip Kelly might opt to sit Gabbert as a precaution with the regular-season opener looming on Sept. 12 against the Los Angeles Rams.

Injury report: Wide receiver Bruce Ellington and defensive lineman Quinton Dial sustained potentially troubling first-half injuries.

Ellington sustained a hamstring strain while returning a punt in the first half. Dial left the game with a left knee injury. It was not immediately known if the injuries were severe.

Safety Eric Reid sustained a right thumb injury, but he was cleared to return to action.

Defensive vets rest: NaVorro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks and Antoine Bethea were held out of the game.

Michael Wilhoite and Ray-Ray Armstrong started at inside linebacker. Tank Carradine, Eli Harold and Aaron Lynch saw action with the first unit at outside linebacker. Carradine recorded a sack. Jaquiski Tartt started at strong safety.

Wide receivers Bryce Treggs (knee) and DeAndre Smelter (hamstring), defensive linemen Arik Armstead (shoulder) and Glenn Dorsey (knee), and linebacker Nick Bellore (knee) did not play.

This ‘n’ that
--Kaepernick has worn a tinted visor in his helmet through training camp. He said earlier this week that he thought he would be able to wear it Friday night. However, the NFL told that the league must grant any player permission.

“A player needs approval to wear it in any game, including the preseason,” an NFL spokesman said. “He can wear it in practice without approval. But in a game, it needs to be approved.”

That approval did not come before game time. Kaepernick wore a tinted visor during warmups, but had a clear visor on during the game. Kaepernick recently said a doctor advised the use of the visor.

--Anthony Davis started the game at right guard. He played the entire first half with the first unit. Veteran Zane Beadles started at left guard. Rookie Joshua Garnett replaced him at the beginning of the third series.

--Rookie Jeff Driskel was the 49ers’ third quarterback, entering the game at the beginning of the third quarter in place of Kaepernick. Driskel completed four of eight pass attempts for 43 yards.

--Christian Ponder entered in the fourth quarter. Packers rookie safety Marwin Evans intercepted Ponder to end his first drive. Ponder completed one of three passes for 11 yards.

--Linebacker Gerald Hodges made a first-quarter tackle of Packers running back Eddie Lacy by getting a fist full of hair at the end of a 21-yard run.


--Rookie cornerback Will Redmond, a third-round draft pick, made his first appearance of the exhibition season. The 49ers brought him along slowly after his college career at Mississippi State ended with a torn ACL. Redmond did not waste much time getting into the action when he dropped Packers running back John Crockett for a 2-yard loss from his position in the left slot. He also recorded a sack.

--DeAndrew White’s spot on the 49ers’ 53-man roster appears to be getting more secure due to injuries to the team’s other slot receivers and punt returners. Ellington’s status is uncertain. Undrafted rookie Bryce Treggs sustained a partially torn MCL last week and is expected to be unavailable for three to seven weeks.

--Linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong started the game but surrendered a 19-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to tight end Jared Cook on a third-and-3 play in the first quarter. Armstrong was penalized for taunting after the final play of the first half. The penalty was assessed when the 49ers kicked off to open the second half.

--Outside linebacker Marcus Rush, who recorded three sacks last week against the Denver Broncos, added to his preseason total on Friday with a sack of Packers undrafted rookie quarterback Joe Callahan.

What's next: The 49ers’ will conduct their first round of cuts in the coming days. The roster currently stands at 90 players. Teams must trim to 75 players by Tuesday. The 49ers finish the exhibition season Thursday night at the San Diego Chargers.