SANTA CLARA -– Quarterback Colin Kaepernick thinks back to the last time he entered the regular season in a reserve role and remembers how quickly things can change.

It was 2012, and Kaepernick was in his second year as a professional. Alex Smith was entrenched as the 49ers' starting quarterback, coming off his best NFL season.

Moreover, Smith was in the midst of a career-best season when he exited the lineup in November due to a concussion. Kaepernick entered the starting lineup, and then-coach Jim Harbaugh never went back to Smith.

On Saturday, 49ers coach Chip Kelly informed Kaepernick he would open this season as the backup to Blaine Gabbert.

“I have to wait my time and work,” Kaepernick said on Wednesday, as the 49ers began preparations to face the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night at Levi’s Stadium.

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“I mean, I’ve been in this position before. The last time I was in this position, I ended up in the Super Bowl. So I continue to work and prepare for when that next opportunity comes.”

Kaepernick started the final seven regular-season games of the 2012 season. He threw for 10 touchdowns and three interceptions while posting a passer rating of 98.3, which still stands as his career-high.

In the playoffs, he was even better. Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns against Green Bay. He came back in the NFC Championship game to post a 127.7 rating in a comeback victory over Atlanta. And in the Super Bowl, Kaepernick threw for 302 yards and rushed for 62 in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.

 

After a quarterback competition throughout the offseason and training camp, Gabbert was named the starter over Kaepernick, who missed nearly two weeks due to arm fatigue.

“He studies hard. He works hard,” Kaepernick said of Gabbert. “That’s ultimately Chip’s decision. All I can do is focus on myself at this point and make sure I’m getting better.

“I think I’ll continue to improve and continue to get into my stride. It’s really only been about a month since I’ve been on the field, so there’s still some progressing to do, still some strength to get back, but I’ll continue to work.”