The next 49ers coach will likely determine the identity of the No. 7 overall draft pick, as well as Colin Kaepernick’s future with the franchise.
Ever since Kaepernick was benched and later underwent season-ending surgery on his non-throwing shoulder in late-November, it was difficult to come up with any scenario in which he would return to the 49ers next season.
Now, there’s a scenario.
The 49ers are expected to hire an offensive-minded head coach to replace Jim Tomsula, whom CEO Jed York officially fired Sunday night after the team defeated the St. Louis Rams in overtime to finish the season with a 5-11 record.
[RATTO: Tomsula last man to find out 49ers gave him the ax]
General manager Trent Baalke does not have a track record of choosing impact offensive players, so it should be a certainty that the next coach will determine the direction the 49ers take with some key personnel decisions.
Kaepernick is at the top of the list.
Blaine Gabbert is under contract for next season at a reasonably scheduled pay of $2.25 million. Gabbert is almost assured of being around, and he said he expects to battle for the starting job.
“I’m going to compete,” Gabbert said after throwing for a career-high 354 yards in the 49ers’ victory over the Rams. “That’s in my blood. That’s who I am as a person. I’m going to be the starting quarterback. I’m going to be a starting quarterback, and that’s the way I’m approaching this offseason.”
Kaepernick’s future is a lot more unsettled because of his scheduled $14.3 million pay for next year. If the new coach comes into the organization, sizes up the situation at quarterback and determines he wants a season to work with Kaepernick, then Kaepernick will be back. After all, Kaepernick remains under contract to the 49ers through the 2020 season.
The situation is not too much unlike that of Alex Smith after the 2010 season. Smith and the 49ers were ready for a split. But Jim Harbaugh came in as coach, decided he wanted Smith and then convinced him he could get a fresh start without leaving the 49ers.
And, now, the No. 7 overall pick in the draft is certainly open for the quarterback position, too.
In Mike Singletary’s first season, he helped dictate to personnel chief Trent Baalke that the 49ers select offensive linemen Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati in the first round. In Jim Harbaugh’s first draft, he chose Kaepernick as the quarterback he wanted. And in Tomsula’s first year, the 49ers invested their first-round pick on a defensive lineman, Arik Armstead, for the former defensive line coach.
A source indicated to CSNBayArea.com recently that Baalke was not inclined to select Cal quarterback Jared Goff or Memphis’ Paxton Lynch with a high first-round pick. Now, it only figures the new coach’s opinion will be the only voice that matters when it comes to evaluating the game’s most-important position.
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Here is a look at how both Kaepernick and Gabbert fared with an equal sample size of eight starts this season:
Team record: 2-6
Comp. pct.: 59.0
Rushing att.: 45
Rushing yards: 256
Rushing avg.: 5.7
Comp. pct.: 63.1
Rushing att.: 32
Rushing yards: 185
Rushing avg.: 5.8