San Francisco 49ers: 5 Players Who Will Shine in Training Camp
Gabbert got the leg up on Colin Kaepernick in the OTAs and the early part of minicamp when he could physically practice on the field whereas Kaepernick (still rehabbing from his offseason surgeries) could only mirror him in the drills.
Gabbert has also picked up on the Kelly offense and its intricacies early. Indeed, in the OTAs he was running the Kelly system like a veteran, per Grant Cohn of the Press Democrat:
"Kelly’s offense is the sixth system Gabbert has had to learn in the NFL, but Gabbert looks like he’d been running Kelly’s system forever. During Tuesday’s OTA, the 49ers’ offense huddled zero times. Kelly called play after play after play after play and Gabbert kept up. No sweat. He also helped teammates line up in the right spots, made calls at the scrimmage and threw passes on time and to the right receivers. Gabbert never seemed confused or indecisive. During competitive team drills when he faced an actual defense, he completed 23 of 31 passes — almost 75 percent. One reason Gabbert seems so comfortable in this offense: It requires lots of short passes to running backs, and Gabbert loves throwing short passes to running backs."
Gabbert is very good on the short reads and throws, and has the athleticism to escape pressure and open up the pocket. As Cohn notes, he has gone through six different offensive systems in his career. He is a quick learner but having the experience to draw on the other systems cannot be underestimated.
Gabbert will shine in camp because he is ready to run the system. He will know the playbook inside-out. He will get the team in and out of plays quickly and efficiently.
He will also benefit by having an improved offensive line. Having Zane Beadles and Joshua Garnett at guard, and a healthy Daniel Kilgore at center, should open up the pocket and give him more time to make his reads.
Gabbert is particularly effective if he is given more than 2.6 seconds in the pocket to make a throw, as noted by Pro Football Focus Fantasy:
Gabbert will be mentally and physically ready for camp, and to show why he is the better option over Kaepernick to be the 49ers opening day starting QB. Kelly will like his ability to see and read the field better, and Gabbert’s extra time on the field during the earlier offseason practices will give him the leg up in the competition which Kaepernick doesn’t have the time to match.
Next: DeForest Buckner