2016 Offseason: 5 Best-Case Scenarios for the San Francisco 49ers
By Peter Panacy
Establishing the Right Quarterback
OK, so a huge component of the 49ers success — or failure — in 2016 will revolve around what happens with the most crucial position in football: quarterback.
San Francisco has more questions than answers right now. And that could be a good thing.
We’ll get to the benefits of that in a moment, but the 49ers are in need of identifying their situation under center. Last year didn’t help much with quarterback Colin Kaepernick struggling, being benched and eventually finding his way onto season-ending injured reserve — all the while the subject of leaks and talk from the front office against his future with the team.
Add Kaepernick’s reported interest in the New York Jets, and the situation doesn’t look any clearer.
Is it Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert or a potential prospect who starts under center in 2016? The last possibility is the least likely. Ideally, the 49ers would want to groom a rookie quarterback for a season or two before throwing him into the fire. And San Francisco would likely prefer a stronger roster around him.
Gabbert could win out based on what’s transpired between Week 9 of the 2015 season through the hiring of head coach Chip Kelly.
NFL Network’s Steve Mariucci weighed in on this (h/t CSN Bay Area):
"[Kelly] will have now a quarterback in Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert – he’s not a slouch either. He’s a smart guy, he was drafted higher than Kaepernick when they both came out and he ran a little option and a little spread himself. I think Chip will have a couple of quarterbacks that are very capable and he’ll have to build up that defense again and be competitive."
So the answer is this: there isn’t one just yet.
But there’s one positive coming out from this unanswered question. The quarterback position is a perfect example where competition will win out. There wasn’t seemingly a lot of that under center since Kaepernick and former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith battled it out for the No. 1 slot back in 2012.
That won’t be the case in 2016.
Speaking of competition…
Next: Competition Fuels the Best-Possible Roster