One of the biggest tasks Chip Kelly has in his first season with the San Francisco 49ers is deciding on a starting quarterback in 2016. For the first time in a few seasons, the 49ers are not set on the starting quarterback position after Colin Kaepernick struggled and was benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert. Kelly has remained complimentary of both quarterbacks as the franchise weighs their options between the two players.
Kelly told the media in his introductory press conference that the quarterbacks on the roster made the 49ers job very attractive to him after he was fired by the Philadelphia Eagles. However, it is unlikely that both players remain on the roster. Gabbert is signed to a contract that remains very manageable for the team while Kappernick will see his $11.9 million salary become fully guaranteed on April 1.
"Obviously, Kap is an extremely talented football player and you need to have a good quarterback to win," Kelly said, via ESPN.com. "But I was also impressed in the film I watched in terms of how Blaine played this year, also. I think statistics bear out that you probably need two good quarterbacks in this league with the injury rate quarterbacks have. I think both of those players make this an attractive situation."
While it was assumed that Kaepernick would be the odd man out for the 49ers, many believe he could be the favored option considering he has the skill set to make Kelly's offense work to perfection. According to NFL Media's Albert Breer, opposing defensive coordinators believe that the pairing of Kelly and Kaepernick will be a nightmare to plan against. The quarterback's ability to run paired with his decent passing abilities means he could really thrive under Kelly if the 49ers opt to keep him around.
Gabbert would have trade value. The quarterback is young and showed potential with San Francisco. There are a lot of teams that could take a serious look at him including the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns and potentially the Philadelphia Eagles. Gabbert won the team over while gaining the confidence of the veteran players in San Francisco. He told the media that if he remains with the 49ers, he intends to compete for the starting spot.
"I'm going to compete," Gabert said, via SFGate.com. "That's in my blood. That's who I am as a person. I'm going to be the starting quarterback ... and that's the way I'm approaching the offseason. ... I'm going to take this team and run with it."
The 49ers could still look for a quarterback in the draft to help build towards the future. If Kaepernick stays and struggles, the 49ers need a Plan B. According to the Sacramento Bee, Vernon Adams Jr could become a real option for the 49ers. The former Oregon star turned a lot of heads in the East West Shrine game. Adams struggled with injuries upon transferring to play for the Ducks, so his draft stock is not high, but he looked good in the game with scouts watching. Dak Prescott and Cordale Jones could be two more favored quarterbacks for Kelly in later rounds of the draft. While Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel have been mentioned as backup options in San Francisco, getting a rookie in the draft could be the better move.