SANTA CLARA –- Quarterback Colin Kaepernick still believes he has a chance to win the 49ers’ starting job to open the regular season.
But it remains to be seen if coach Chip Kelly will keep the quarterback competition going for another week.
Blaine Gabbert, who has started all three of the team’s exhibition games, appears to be in solid position to be named the starter for the regular-season opener on Sept. 12 against the Los Angeles Rams. Kelly was noncommittal about when he might make that decision.
“You’re never going to make decision just walking off the field,” Kelly said Friday night following the 49ers’ 21-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium. “We’ll sit down as a staff and see where we are, the overall state. First and foremost, we got to be better offensively.”
Kaepernick played in his first game since playing one snap on Nov. 8 against the Atlanta Falcons. Benched for that game, Kaepernick entered when Gabbert was forced out for the game for one play.
Shortly thereafter, Kaepernick underwent season-ending surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. He missed the first two exhibition games this summer due to arm fatigue. He said his arm felt good and he has experienced no issues since he returned to practice on Monday.
“No, I don’t think there was rust,” Kaepernick said. “It just felt good to be back on the field. It was exciting to be out there. I wish we would’ve done a little bit more, but it was good to get out there and get my feet wet.”
Kaepernick completed two of six pass attempts for 14 yards. He also rushed four times for 18 yards.
Said Kelly, “He was up and down, like all of us offensively. We weren’t very consistent except for that one drive.”
“Overall, I felt confident in my reads, felt confident what the offense was doing,” he said. “We just have to be more productive on first and second downs and stay out of third-and-longs.”
Kaepernick spoke as if he expects the competition to last through the final game of the exhibition season. The 49ers have their final tuneup on Thursday against the San Diego Chargers. Typically, the starters do not play – or play sparingly -- in the final exhibition game.
When asked he believe he can still win the job, Kaepernick answered, “Yeah. I think so. That’s really up to Chip and the coaching staff, but in my mind I can go out and win.”
And what can he do to win the job?
“I think next game I have to be more productive, put points on the board,” Kaepernick said. “Ultimately, that’s what you want to do as an offense and as a quarterback. So I think that’ll be a big thing for next week.”
Kaepernick’s $11.9 million salary for this season is guaranteed. The only other quarterbacks on the roster behind Gabbert and Kaepernick are rookie Jeff Driskel and Christian Ponder, who was out of the league last season.
Kaepernick has roster bonuses that could pay him an additional $2 million this season if he suits up for games -– even if he does not play.
“There’s never been a conversation about that,” Kelly said. “That’s never come up. There’s never been a conversation about cutting Colin Kaepernick.”
Gabbert played the first two series of the game, completing two of his three attempts for 14 yards. Gabbert played eight snaps, concluding his appearance with a 53-yard touchdown drive. Kaepernick was on the field for eight plays -- three drives ending with three punts.
“We wanted to keep our ones in for both guys,” Kelly said.
“Our goal today was to see if we could get equal amount of snaps for those guys with the ones. “