San Francisco 49ers: 5 Players Poised to Break Out in 2016
By Jerod Brown
Colin Kaepernick or Blaine Gabbert-Quarterbacks
We could also call this “Whoever happens to start at quarterback”. That’s not to say that either of these guys will become All-Pro quarterbacks every year but, at least in 2016, they should see a major jump in their statistical output.
The 49ers haven’t settled their quarterback position and that’s fine with head coach Chip Kelly. In fact, if he had it his way, he’d never have to name a starting quarterback because that player would insert himself. Kelly prefers that a player makes it obvious. In his book “The Tao of Chip Kelly”, author Mark Saltveit quotes a couple of Kelly’s assistants in regards to quarterback competitions.
Eagles Quarterback Coach Bill Lazor said, “It’s always best when it plays out on the field. When it plays out on the field, everyone sees it. Not everyone always agrees, but it plays out.”
Additionally, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur echoed those thoughts, saying:
"“Again, we’ve got a lot of training sessions left. We’ve got a full preseason, four preseason games. I think as we go through it and we add more and more to what we’re doing; we’re hopeful it’ll be obvious to everyone who the starter is.”"
In essence, Kelly isn’t going to name a starter any earlier than necessary and he’ll let the play of each person on the field speak for itself. With former-superstar Colin Kaepernick competing with failed-first-round pick Blaine Gabbert, it’s best to let the performance dictate who plays.
Fortunately, Kelly’s system will make it a little easier on both of them.
Kelly has found a way to make both Nick Foles and Sam Bradford productive in his system. They may not win an incredible amount of games, but the starting quarterback will look significantly more viable than he might in another system.
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Would that qualify as a breakout year? Maybe, maybe not. However, whether it’s Blaine Gabbert or Colin Kaepernick, the starting quarterback will likely have his most-productive season from a statistical standpoint.
For a 49ers offense that has been incredibly dull over recent years, a quarterback that can throw for nearly 4,000 yards will make fans take notice. It is important to recognize the structure of Kelly’s offense that is facilitating their success, but both men could use a career revival of sorts.
Next: How the 49ers Can Win the NFC West
As much as these predictions are hopeful guesses about who might play well in 2016, it’s also important to note that the team needs these players to perform.
If head coach Chip Kelly has any plan moving forward, he’ll have to see significant improvement from the young players on the team while they look to build a core for the future. On both sides of the ball, Kelly can point to key players and ask himself whether they can be leaders or not.
The San Francisco 49ers are knee-deep in a rebuild and that begins with throwing young players to the wolves. Trent Baalke and his staff need to know how they can upgrade this roster moving forward and coach Kelly needs to see who he can win with.
That likely won’t happen much in 2016, but that doesn’t mean that some players shouldn’t see incredible development from previous years.
Quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert, as well as Dontae Johnson, Carlos Hyde, Arik Armstead and Garrett Celek need to insert themselves as the leaders of this team moving forward. The best way to do that is to perform on the field. Each one of those players could be poised for a breakout campaign in 2016.
All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com andSports-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.