49ers coach Chip Kelly hopes to resolve the quarterback competition in San Francisco based in large part on preseason performance. In Week One of the exhibition slate, Colin Kaepernick will be doing nothing to help his chances. Or, technically, to hurt them.
The 49ers have announced that Kaepernick will miss Sunday night’s game against the Texans, due to shoulder soreness. Kaepernick has been limited in practice lately due to a sore arm.
That gives Blaine Gabbert, by default, the reps with the first-string offense — and a chance to establish a gap between himself and Kaepernick. Or, if Gabbert performs poorly, to give Kaepernick an edge by default.
Kappernick has been trying to play catch up in camp, after missing the offseason program due to a cocktail of surgeries. Although he asked to be traded and met twice with the Broncos in connection with a potential deal to Denver, the 49ers seem to consider Kaepernick to be a serious contender for the job.
Or maybe the 49ers still hope to send him to a team that suffers an injury to its starting quarterback — or to a team that decides that adding Kaepernick in late August or early September would still be better than going with the candidates they currently have for the job.
In other words, maybe a trade to Denver could still happen.
Meanwhile, it’s hard not to wonder whether the 49ers, if they retain Kaepernick, plan to keep him in bubble wrap this year, like Washington did with Robert Griffin III a year ago. Unable to cut the cord on Kaepernick’s $12 million salary before it became fully-guaranteed in April because he was still injured, there’s a chance the 49ers want to do everything they can to keep him healthy this year, so that they can cut him before another $14.5 million becomes fully guaranteed as of April 1, 2017.