SANTA CLARA – Quarterback Blaine Gabbert completed 62.9 percent of his pass attempts in the 49ers’ season opener on Monday night, but misfired on what appeared to be some simple throws.
Gabbert made his best throws in the fourth quarter, driving an 8-yard touchdown pass into Vance McDonald and sticking a 15-yard throw into tight coverage to Garrett Celek in the 49ers’ 28-0 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
“He did make it and should make it,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said of those pass attempts. “We have all the confidence in the world in him. You look at the ball he threw to Vance for the touchdown, he ripped that one in there.
“Again, first game in our system, understanding what he’s doing. First real live game. There were some real positives that we can build upon with him.”
Gabbert completed 22 of 35 pass attempts for 170 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He also avoided getting sacked. But there was at least one instance in which he failed to capitalize on a big-play opportunity.
Gabbert overthrew Jeremy Kerley 20 yards down the field after the slot receiver had gotten behind three Los Angeles Rams defenders in the first quarter.
Gabbert had two badly underthrown passes, both to wide receiver Torrey Smith. He skipped his first pass of the game to the right side for Smith. Later, on a fourth-down play, Gabbert again came up short to Smith, who made the catch 2-yards behind the line of scrimmage and was immediately dropped for a loss. But Kelly said it might have been more of an instance of Gabbert expecting to make shorter throws.
“I think part of it was our receivers were too wide,” Kelly said. “Some of the spacing things and their splits should have been tighter for us to execute what we wanted to execute. So I think sometimes that throws Blaine off a little bit was that he’s expecting the receivers to be lined up five yards closer than they are, and now they are five yards wider than they are. So it’s just getting everybody on the same page.”