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SANTA CLARA – Blaine Gabbert is not playing well enough to be the 49ers’ backup quarterback.
But, then, nobody on the 49ers behind starter Colin Kaepernick has exactly taken over to win the role as the team’s No. 2 quarterback.
“In terms of a backup quarterback, it’s as simple as who doesn’t turn the ball over,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said after the 49ers’ 34-0 loss to the Denver Broncos in the second exhibition game for both teams.
“They’re turning the ball over. All of them have. There’s nobody to elevate. Whoever doesn’t turn the ball over will be the backup quarterback.”
Gabbert completed 8 of 14 passes for just 40 yards with an interception. In two exhibition games, Gabbert is 11 of 25 for 60 yards and two interceptions.
“It just comes back to taking care of the football," Gabbert said. "It starts at the quarterback position, whoever is out there, including myself. We have to be conscious of it. When you have some momentum going, you have a drive across the 50, and you turn the football over, it’s a dagger.”
Josh Johnson, who followed Gabbert into the action, lost a fumble to end his first drive. And McLeod Bethel Thompson also was intercepted on his first drive in the game. Harbaugh said the 49ers will not look to add a backup quarterback before the start of the regular season.
“No,” he said. “We got good quarterbacks.”
The 49ers have swung trades the past two years to land backup quarterbacks. The 49ers acquired Colt McCoy from the Cleveland Browns last year. This offseason, the 49ers sent a sixth-round draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Gabbert and his fully guaranteed $2 million salary.
Gabbert, who also threw an interception in the 49ers’ exhibition opener against the Baltimore Ravens, had his third-quarter pass intended for Quinton Patton picked off by Broncos safety Quinton Carter.
“I think Quinton could’ve looked earlier,” Harbaugh said. “We were off. That kind of off. It’s little. It’s correctable. It shows up. That’s football. It punishes mistakes. Rewards execution and precision. And we’re off right now. We’re not a precise team. The precision isn’t there right now. And we’re being punished for mistakes.”
Gabbert, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2011 draft, threw 24 interceptions and 22 touchdowns in 27 starts over his three seasons with the Jaguars.
“Protecting the ball is the No. 1 thing that the quarterback has to do, and that goes for every guy on this roster, and it starts with every guy out there," Gabbert said. "My job, which I’m focusing on, is not turning the football over.”