49ers

Sources: Ponder has support in 49ers locker room

Sources: Ponder has support in 49ers locker room

Coach Chip Kelly on Thursday night made no guarantees that Blaine Gabbert will continue in the role of the 49ers’ starting quarterback.

While the most obvious move would be to promote Colin Kaepernick into the starting role, sources told CSNBayArea.com on Friday morning that there is some support among the team’s offensive players for Christian Ponder to move ahead of both Gabbert and Kaepernick.

“Ponder is the best option for quarterback on the roster,” said a locker-room source.

The 49ers have lost four consecutive games, and the team’s passing game ranks last in the NFL. Gabbert completed 58 percent of his pass attempts in the first five games, with five touchdowns, six interceptions and a passer rating of 69.6.

[MAIOCCO: Top 5 takeaways from 49ers' 33-21 loss to Cardinals]

Ponder, a fifth-year NFL veteran, won a roster spot with the 49ers after being a late arrival in training camp. The 49ers signed Ponder on Aug. 16 to take the roster spot vacated by Thad Lewis’ season-ending knee injury.

Ponder beat out rookie Jeff Driskel for the No. 3 job to open the season. The Cincinnati Bengals claimed Driskel to be their No. 3 quarterback.

While Gabbert has struggled mightily in games, Kaepernick has been out-performed in practices, Kelly confirmed on Thursday after the 49ers' 33-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

One player questioned Kaepernick’s commitment, pointing to the weight he has been unable to regain in the four months since the conclusion of the team’s offseason program. Kaepernick lost considerable weight while rehabbing from shoulder, knee and thumb surgeries.

Kaepernick has served as the 49ers’ backup for the first four games, while Ponder has been inactive as the No. 3 quarterback. Ponder, working primarily with the scout team, has been more consistent than Kaepernick in practices, a source said.

The 49ers players are off until Tuesday. Kelly said he will meet with his coaching staff to consider all options before the team reports back to work.

“I think we’re going to look at everything,” Kelly said. “I mean, we’re 1-4. We need to make sure we’re going out there and giving us the best chance to win, so we’re going to look at everything.”

NFL draft rumors: Nick Bosa early favorite to land with 49ers at No. 2

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NFL draft rumors: Nick Bosa early favorite to land with 49ers at No. 2

Within the past week, the 49ers sent representatives to the pro days of Alabama, Ohio State, and Kentucky.

The 49ers own the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. If they hold onto that selection, there appear to be only three players who warrant serious consideration:

--Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams met with 49ers general manager John Lynch and vice president of player personnel Adam Peters early in the week in Tuscaloosa.

--On Wednesday, Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa had a late lunch with Lynch and Peters in Columbus.

--Two days later, Kentucky outside linebacker and edge rusher Josh Allen spent some time with 49ers area scout Steve Rubio, who also attended Ohio State’s pro day and dined with Bosa.

None of the top players worked out, each opting to stand on his marks from the testing at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month. Williams, Bosa, and Allen are scheduled to make visits to Santa Clara to meet with the 49ers before the draft.

The consensus opinion at this stage appears to be that Bosa will end up with the 49ers. But a lot can happen between now and April 25, when the first round of the NFL draft is held in Nashville.

First, the 49ers can only select Bosa if the Arizona Cardinals pass him up to choose Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick.

The 49ers could still entertain the possibility of trading back to acquire more picks, but there would have to be a team willing to pay the price to move up.

[RELATED: John Lynch says free agency set up 49ers for the draft]

While in Columbus, Lynch said the 49ers are still in the preliminary stages of their draft evaluations. He said the team filled holes in free agency, which enables the 49ers to select the player they evaluate to be the best in the draft, regardless of position.

“We’ve done a lot of work on those guys,” Lynch said. “We’ve done a lot of work on the entire draft class, but it really gets hyper-focused now. We’ve condensed a lot of information. Now the coaches come up and we put it all together.”

Kwon Alexander will fill Reuben Foster's void, John Lynch believes

Kwon Alexander will fill Reuben Foster's void, John Lynch believes

49ers general manager John Lynch acknowledged that he signed Kwon Alexander to fill the void left by former 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster, who was released last season. 

In an interview with 49ers.com, Lynch spoke about how he and his staff brought back several familiar faces to the linebackers room. He was also very frank about what the team lost in Foster as a player. 

“Let’s be honest,” Lynch said. “We had a void that we thought we had filled with Reuben Foster. Things transpired there. We had a void there and that stinks but you can’t just sit there and pout, you gotta say ‘OK, let’s do something.'

“We needed a dynamic football player at that position. It’s a very critical position in our scheme and this became the guy. Kwon became the guy that we wanted to be that guy.” 

Alexander has many of the same on-field characteristics as Foster. He’s known as a hard hitter who flies around the field, making players think twice about going across the middle. He may make some mistakes in the game, but his passion and heart are recognized by his teammates. 

“I think what stood out to us with Kwon,” Lynch said, “he’s a dynamic football player. He’s a tone setter. You need tone-setters on your defense. 

“I think he’s a guy that when you watch him, when you talk to people who played against him, people who played with him, he’s exactly that. His type of play running all over the field, hitting people, getting the ball, it’s contagious. We need that.” 

The 49ers' admiration for Alexander grew as they did more research on him. They understand it may take some time before he returns to 100 percent health.

[RELATED: Kwon Alexander overcame tragedy, adversity]

“The more we watched him the more we liked,” Lynch said. “We knew he was coming off an ACL injury but we got comfortable with the medical part and also got comfortable with 'Hey, we are going to wait as long as it takes.' This is a long-term investment. He’s doing very well in his rehab.” 

The staff ideally would like to see Alexander lined up next to Fred Warner, who had a stand-out rookie season. They also brought back Elijah Lee, special teams contributor Mark Nzeocha, and signed ex-Panther David Mayo to a two-year contract to fill out the linebackers room.