After five rough weeks, the 49ers made the change and now I think we might see the main reason Chip Kelly was hired or even wanted to take that job.
Colin Kaepernick is going to start against Buffalo on Sunday and if his mind is right and he’s fully healthy after surgeries on his knee, shoulder and thumb and sitting out almost a full year, that offense could look a lot better very quickly.
Blaine Gabbert, who started the first five games for the 49ers, runs the zone read well. He gets hidden yardage there – he can pick up 60 or 70 yards per game.
But if that’s the case and he’s fairly productive, just think about how much better a healthy Colin Kaepernick can do with that offense.
We saw what he did against the Green Bay Packers four years ago in the playoffs when he rushed for 181 yards and then the next week helped the 49ers recover from a 17-point deficit to beat Atlanta in the biggest comeback in NFC Championship game history.
We’ve seen the type of dynamic player that Colin is when he’s right and that offense can work in the NFL if you do it correctly. I think it will just make that team more relevant and help it find a way to put some points on the board.
We’ve seen the type of dynamic player that Colin is when he’s right and that offense can work in the NFL if you do it correctly. I think it will just make that team more relevant and help it find a way to put some points on the board and excite a fan base. That’s the kind of guy that he can be and that changes games. That changes the outlook of an entire football game, just having the quarterback be a threat to run.
Blaine can do it. He picks up yards, so you know the offense works. But it definitely needs a guy to be able to move and that’s Colin. If you’re going to run zone read and you’re going to run play-action off of it, move the pocket off of it, and your big pass plays are going to come off play-action and zone read plays, then you have to have a threat at quarterback if you’re going to be taken seriously.
It would be fun to see him do that.
It’s all going to be about whether or not Colin is healthy. He had the offseason surgeries and watching him in OTAs (organized team activities) and offseason workouts he didn’t look like the Colin Kaepernick that I knew when I was in San Francisco. He had lost a lot of weight. Surgeries are hard to come back from; it’s going to take some time. You just knew that it was going to be longer than anyone wanted, probably even Chip.
When he first got there, you saw the comments about what a good athlete Blaine Gabbert is and I think that gave Chip a good feeling that if Colin is not ready, if he’s not able to go, this guy could do it. I think that gave Blaine a little bit of a leg up, because Colin wasn’t right coming off his surgeries, coming off what he had to do in the offseason.
When they started, Blaine was throwing the ball well enough – and he can at times. He has a strong arm. He looks good when he’s doing it right. But there are a handful of throws a game that he shouldn’t have over the course of a season, let alone in one game. We sat there last week and we watched Blaine struggle, miss some open throws that you just don’t miss in the NFL. Well, you can miss them. You just won’t have a job very long.
Blaine has done an adequate job of holding down the fort, but if this team wants to do anything long term, it needed to make a change. If the 49ers didn’t do it and they wanted Blaine to go, then Blaine could go, but I’m not sure how many games they would win this year.
We’re going to know pretty quickly if Colin is healthy – if he’s the guy that we’ve been able to enjoy watching play or if he’s the guy from the past year or so where we’re not sure what we’re going to get. If he’s healthy and he’s in it, I don’t know that there’s a better quarterback for this system. I think he’s absolutely perfect for everything that Chip Kelly would want.
He’s much like a Marcus Mariota – a very similar skill set – but I think Colin has an even stronger arm to be able to push the ball down the field.
We’ll have to see. I’m just not sure if we’re going to get the guy that we want to see. We want to see Colin, it just might not be the Kaepernick that we’re used to seeing.
Question of the week
From Marc Varney, Clovis: What were some of the differences between playing quarterback in college and in the NFL?
There are two things that stand out. One is the time commitment. When you’re in college, you have to sign a form with the NCAA that says you’re only allowed to spend ‘X’ number of hours studying film or practicing and it’s all good, you go home and that’s what it is. In the NFL, there is no such time clock. You can spend endless hours studying film and preparing. You can lift weights as much as you want. You can be in the training room. You can take it home with you. That’s the biggest difference. Guys think, ‘I don’t have to go to school anymore.’ Well, you’re going to go to school all hours of the day when you get to the NFL. You’re constantly studying and trying to understand your opponent and how they’re going to attack you and how you can attack them. It’s something the casual fan never gets to see, but it’s endless.
Then, the speed of the game is something that comes with understanding what you’re doing. There’s a difference between high school football and college football. That’s a jump. But going from college football to the NFL, that’s three jumps, because everybody is an All-American. When you’re getting ready to face a team in college, they might have one All-America player, one guy that might be really good and that guy might not even start in the NFL. The speed of the game and how fast it happens on the field is mind-blowing. When I was coming out of Fresno State, I went to see a Rams-Falcons game when Michael Vick was playing. It was the first NFL game that I ever saw in person. I went down on the field and watched Michael Vick run around, and that was probably not the best game to go to trying to get a feel for the speed of the game because I had to play that position. I just told myself, ‘I’m not that fast. I’m going to have to find a different way.’ The speed, it was shocking.
David Carr is a former Fresno State quarterback, NFL No. 1 draft pick and Super Bowl champion. Now he’s an analyst for the NFL Network and writing a weekly column in collaboration with The Bee’s Robert Kuwada. The column is sponsored by Valley Children’s Hospital.
Win a football autographed by David Carr
Each week, David will answer one reader’s question in this column – and that lucky reader will receive an NFL autograph football signed by David! Post your question as a comment on the column at www.fresnobee.com/sports/nfl.
Everyone who poses a question to David this season will be entered in a season-ending drawing – and the winner gets a personal appearance with David at a 2017 Fresno-area event!