From the pregame to the in-game to the garbage-time-at-the-end-of-the-game, multiple CBS broadcasters were working overtime on Thursday night to push the apparently party line regarding the 49ers’ refusal to replace Blaine Gabbert with Colin Kaepernick.
The effort included knocking down Kaepernick — and also propping up Blaine Gabbert. It became conspicuous toward the end of the game, when Phil Simms offered up an over-the-top assessment of Gabbert.
“I got no feeling — I haven’t in anything I’ve read, watched, watching practice, talking to the players, talking to the coach — there’s nothing that’s given me a hint that anywhere close with that quarterback change could happen with the San Francisco 49ers,” Simms said on the broadcast. “That’s just my opinion. . . . I saw Blaine Gabbert taking all the reps, doing all the practice. A lot of encouraging words about him as a teammate, a player. Look, come on, I don’t want to hear anybody talk — this guy’s got talent. You see that on the field. Running, got a good arm. Yeah, he missed some passes tonight. It’s not a game of perfection.”
The comments from Simms hardly went unnoticed. They were heard specifically by the analysts at NFL Network, who are conjoined with CBS for the first half of the Thursday Night Football schedule.
Michael Irvin of NFLN had this to say: “[D]id anyone else feel kind of weird the way Phil Simms was talking about Blaine Gabbert, as we’re watching some of these passes? You know, he was talking about him like this guy was the next coming of Tom Brady or somebody.”
Added Marshall Faulk: “He was talking about Blaine Gabbert like he was his relative.”
Actually, Simms talked about Gabbert better than Simms has publicly talked about any relative; he’s had multiple sons in the NFL, and the closest Simms ever has come to defending a relative happened 11 years ago, when Young explained away the struggles of Chris Simms by suggesting that he grew up in a “laissez-faire” atmosphere.
Simms bristled at the remark, and not because it represented a horribly inaccurate application of the term. For now, the quarterback situation in San Francisco is hardly unfolding in a laissez-faire manner; Simms and other intended or accidental surrogates are doing whatever they can to help the team justify its stubborn refusal to make a change at the most important position on the field.