SANTA CLARA – Colin Kaepernick will get extensive playing time Thursday night in the 49ers’ exhibition finale against the San Diego Chargers, coach Chip Kelly said on Tuesday.
Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert are still competing to be the 49ers’ starting quarterback for the opening game of the regular season on Sept. 12 against the Los Angeles Rams, Kelly said.
When asked if Kaepernick is one of the best two quarterbacks on the team right now, Kelly said, “Yes.”
Gabbert will not suit up for Thursday’s game, but that is not because he has won the starting job, Kelly said. Kaepernick missed the first two exhibition games due to arm fatigue, while Gabbert started the first three games.
“We plan on playing Kap in the game, just because he’s got only 13 snaps so far in the preseason,” Kelly said. “Gabbert will not play. He’s had 43 snaps in the preseason.”
In Kelly’s three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, he did not have his regular-season starting quarterback – or many of his starters at other positions -- suit up for the final exhibition game.
Kelly said there has not been discussion within the organization whether to cut Kaepernick.
"We knew we were not going to release any quarterbacks at the cut to 75, so we haven’t had a discussion about the quarterbacks position,” Kelly said. “We kind of go through it position by position, and how many do we have to have to play in the Chargers game? You don’t want to leave yourself short.”
Kelly does not have contractual say over the 49ers’ 53-man roster, but he said he will be involved in that decision. General manager Trent Baalke has the final word on the 53-man roster, while Kelly decides which 46 players are active on game days.
“It’s a group thing,” Kelly said. “There’s always input. The final say is Trent’s, and that’s the way it should be. It’s not like I can say, ‘Hey, I like these eight guys’ and he says, ‘I don’t care about those eight guys, we’re going this way.’
“We’ve got a real cooperative relationship. The one thing about it, we see things the same way in terms how to build a football team.”
--Defensive tackle Quinton Dial will not play Thursday due to a left knee injury he sustained in the 49ers’ game Friday against Green Bay. Kelly said he expects Dial to be available for the regular-season opener.