When coach Chip Kelly talks about Colin Kaepernick’s weight and strength, he is not saying that once the 49ers’ backup quarterback gets his weight up to 225 pounds he will become the starter.
Kelly, in essence, is providing a reason why Kaepernick is not playing at his 2013 level. That was Kaepernick’s first full season as the starter and his best full season in the NFL. Kaepernick’s weight was just fine in 2014 and 2015, when his play dropped off, but Kelly chooses to reference 2013.
Blaine Gabbert continues to be the 49ers’ starter, entering the 49ers' game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, because Kelly and his coaching staff are convinced Gabbert is the best quarterback on the team and provides the team with the best chance of winning games.
Let's go to the 49ers Mailbag to look at some questions submitted on our Facebook page. . .
Is Gabbert out-performing Kap in practice? And, if so, have you noticed Kap closing the gap? (Ricardo Covarrubias)
Yes, I’ve been hearing Gabbert has been out-performing Kaepernick, and Kaepernick has not been closing the gap. But Kelly recognizes that Kaepernick has played winning football in the past, so he wants to give it some time to see if Kaepernick can come around.
The general media that covers the 49ers have not been allowed to watch practices since the second exhibition game. But 49ers radio analyst Tim Ryan is allowed to observe. I have not spoken with Ryan about this subject, but he said this past week on KNBR what I’ve been hearing, too.
”I come to most of the practices, and watched them, watched the offense and the quarterbacks quite a bit,” Ryan said. “And when you watch practice, man, Blaine’s the better option. Blaine looks like the better player.”
Why isn't Trent Baalke held accountable for the lack of talent on the 49ers roster? (Ryan Gutierrez)
The 49ers’ general manager is held accountable for the 53-man roster. He has contractual power to form the team’s 53-man roster, so there’s nobody else to credit or blame.
I’ll make one point, though. I do not believe the 49ers’ roster is devoid of talent. I believe there are a lot of good players – some are very young – on this roster. However, where the 49ers are lacking are at the key positions, such as quarterback, wide receiver and pass-rusher. And that is a big problem.
Is the QB a problem or WR? (Jorge Sierra)
Going back to the previous question, this is the most serious issue that must be considered when CEO Jed York determines Baalke’s fate beyond this season.
The 49ers went into the offseason with shaky situations at quarterback and wide receiver. Kaepernick was all-but traded to the Denver Broncos, but the Broncos and Kaepernick could not agree on a new contract.
The only move the 49ers made at quarterback was to sign Thad Lewis, then Christian Ponder, to replace third-string quarterback Dylan Thompson. We’re not even going to mention the draft selection of Jeff Driskel because he’s no longer around. (The Bengals claimed him off waivers after the 49ers settled on Ponder over Driskel as the No. 3 quarterback.)
The 49ers not only did not improve from a year ago at wide receiver, the team actually got considerably worse with the decision to let Anquan Boldin get away to open the door for some of their younger players.
Eric Rogers and Bruce Ellington sustained season-ending injuries. Seventh-round draft pick Aaron Burbridge is on the roster as one of six wide receivers. But all the other young players flopped.
The 49ers were so desperate that three of three of their six wideouts – Jeremy Kerley, Rod Streater and Keshawn Martin – are veterans who were picked up after training camp. That does not speak well of the receivers who spent the entire offseason and training camp with the club.
Does it make sense to trade for Romo? (Isam Sabbah)
It remains to be seen what the Dallas Cowboys do this season when Tony Romo is cleared to return to action. If Dak Prescott remains as the starter, the Cowboys probably would not keep Romo as a backup who is set to earn $14 million, $19.5 million and $20.5 million the next three seasons. Romo could be on the market.
Also, keep an eye on what happens with Jimmy Garappolo of the New England Patriots. He is set to become a free agent after the 2017 season. For the right price, the 49ers could make a move to acquire him. Kelly and Bill Belichick have a good rapport and might be able to work out a deal. (John Clayton of ESPN and I discussed that topic on the 49ers Insider Podcast and the possible compensation it would take the 49ers to make that deal.)
If the 49ers were able to acquire a quarterback before the draft, then they could focus on wide receivers in the early rounds.