Chip Kelly is officially the man in charge in San Francisco and his work starts right away in terms of player evaluation. The 49ers have two quarterbacks on the roster looking to be the starter next season and the chances both return are unknown. Kelly spoke with the media on Wednesday and when asked about the future of both Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert, he remained very neutral.
When asked about the future of players like Kaepernick, Kelly told the media that he is unable to comment on that per NFL rules. That is not true considering Kelly is allowed to talk about any player currently under contract with the team which Kaepenrick is. The coach said via CSNBayArea.com that he is going to wait and comment on Kaepernick on April 4. It just so happens that Kaepernick's $11.9 million salary becomes fully guaranteed for 2016 on April 1. The comments from Kelly made everyone raise an eyebrow or two.
"I'm not allowed to comment about [Kaepernick] in terms of how he fits into any system because of the CBA rules of we're not allowed to discuss football, I'm not allowed to say who fits where and how they fit," Kelly said, via CSNBayArea.com. "So I'm gonna wait until April 4 to discuss Kap and the offense."
Kelly did say that he believed both Kaepernick and Gabbert were quality quarterbacks. When looking at coaching jobs, Kelly noted that having two successful quarterbacks on the roster made the 49ers' position very attractive for him. So does that mean Kelly is not looking to dump Kaepernick like many assumed? The quarterback does have the skill set that better fits the type of offense Kelly intends to run. Gabbert proved he too can be a mobile threat and win games. However, with Kelly not having full control of roster moves, he might not get a say in what happens with either player.
"Obviously Kap is an extremely talented football player and you need a good quarterback to win," Kelly said. "But I was also impressed from the film I watched in terms of how Blaine played this year. Both of those players made this an attractive situation."
There is a good chance the 49ers' front office has no desire in dealing the money owed to Kaepernick next season and they release him. With that the team would likely look to the NFL Draft for a quarterback who could then compete with Gabbert for the starting job. The 49ers will select at No.7. That means they could have their pick of Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch or Carson Wentz. According to ESPN's Todd McShay, none of these options might be ready to lead a franchise their rookie season. All three are considered the best available and yet scouting their NFL success is not easy. However, having Gabbert under contract would at least give San Francisco some flexibility.