As the 49ers debate whether or not Colin Kaepernick will remain on their roster beyond next week, coach Chip Kelly is talking up the quarterback who replaced Kaepernick next season.
Kelly said he has spoken with Blaine Gabbert, likes him personally and likes what Gabbert put on tape last season.
“[I’m] impressed with Blaine,” Kelly said, via CSNBayArea.com. “You watch him the last couple of games he started. He’s another guy, you look at his skill set. He took off against the Bears and went  yards for a touchdown. He ran 4.61 in the Combine when he was coming out. He’s big. I’d never really dealt with Blaine because he came into the league before I came into the league, but just how big and physical and impressive he is. He’s a 6-4, 245-pound guy that can really run. I thought the last part of the season he played really well. It’ll be intriguing to work with him, too.”
Officially, the company line from the 49ers has been that Kaepernick and Gabbert will compete for the starting job. But the 49ers have acknowledged they would consider trading Kaepernick, whom they’ll have to pay a total of $13.425 million this season if he’s still on the roster on Friday. If they trade Kaepernick, that would make Gabbert the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, at least for the time being.
Last year Gabbert had better passing numbers than Kaepernick, and the 49ers had a better record in the eight games Gabbert started than the eight games Kaepernick started. So while Kelly’s comments may be part of a P.R. campaign as the team looks for trade leverage with Kaepernick, it’s also possible that Kelly genuinely believes Gabbert may be the better quarterback.