San Francisco 49ers: 5 Best Position Battles to Watch in Training Camp
By Peter Panacy
Players on Roster: Jeff Driskel, Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick, Thad Lewis, Dylan Thompson
You knew we had to end on this one, right?
Few other positions in professional sports — none, in reality — garner as much attention as an NFL quarterback. And the 49ers are rife with intrigue and controversy at this position entering 2016.
For now, signs point to embattled signal-caller Colin Kaepernick being on the roster this season. But will he start and, if not, is San Francisco comfortable with a nearly $12 million backup?
Given their current salary cap, yes. And who knows, maybe the Kaepernick/Chip Kelly marriage will be the element Kap needs to turn his floundering career around. Additionally, the notion the 49ers have set precedent in replacing Kaepernick with once-backup Blaine Gabbert before could help serve the former’s motivation to excel.
Adding Louisiana Tech quarterback Jeff Driskel adds some intrigue. At best, he’s a project quarterback this season. If neither Kaepernick or Gabbert pan out as long-term options, and there’s no guarantee either will, the 49ers do have a slim hope Driskel becomes something special.
Remember, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was a late-round pickup, and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo entered the league as a UDFA.
But the biggest focus will be between Kaepernick and Gabbert. Each players have their respective strengths and weaknesses.
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Developments here will be interesting to watch, for sure. And the fit within Kelly’s offense will have a lot to do with the player selected.
But the most important part will be what the Niners’ coaching staff sees during camp. Practices and camp results are often the most-important element in determining roster status. Coaches trust what they see here, so keep an eye on first-team reps and any changes thereafter.
Next: Early Projections for 49ers 2016 Rookie Class
All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com and Sports-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.