ENGLEWOOD, Col. – The 49ers’ roster – at least for now – consists of two quarterbacks who were selected in the first round and another, Colin Kaepernick, chosen early in the second round.
The two first-rounders, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder, are on the rebound. And Kaepernick is trying to stop a downward slide that has been gradual since playing a dynamic role in helping the 49ers get to Super Bowl XLVII.
Since then-general manager Scot McCloughan tabbed Alex Smith as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, Kaepernick is the only quarterback the 49ers have selected with a top-200 selection.
After the selection of Kaepernick, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke has chosen only two quarterbacks: B.J. Daniels in the seventh round in 2013, and Jeff Driskel in the sixth round this year.
“That’s a fair question,” Baalke said this week when asked why the 49ers have not invested any of their past 39 top-200 draft picks on a quarterback.
“There’s a little bit of everything that goes into that. There were times we were prepared to make picks, and the board didn’t fall the way we maybe wanted it to fall. There were times players were picked ahead of the value we felt there was.
“There’s so much that goes into it. It is a position you’re constantly trying to address. There are few teams in the league that aren’t trying to address it.”
Driskel came to the 49ers with the No. 207 overall pick this year. But it’s unclear exactly how much the organization coveted him leading up to the draft. The first time coach Chip Kelly spoke with Driskel was approximately 30 minutes before the 49ers turned in the card with the Louisiana Tech quarterback’s name on it.
Gabbert was the No. 10 overall pick of the Jaguars in 2011. After Jacksonville went 5-22 in his starts over his first three seasons, Gabbert was shipped to the 49ers in a 2014 trade. He will make his second start of the exhibition season on Saturday night against the Denver Broncos. Gabbert is looking to strengthen his hold on the starting job over Kaepernick, who has not thrown a pass in practice since Aug. 10 due to a “fatigued” throwing arm.
Ponder, the No. 12 overall pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2011, was signed this week to take the roster spot vacated when veteran Thad Lewis sustained a season-ending knee injury in the first exhibition game.
Ponder, who has not thrown a pass in an NFL game since 2014, is a long shot to make the 49ers’ 53-man roster. The 49ers could opt to keep two quarterbacks and stash Driskel on their 10-man practice squad at the start of the regular season.
Baalke defended the quarterbacks assembled on the roster this summer and said he believes they can be successful in Chip Kelly's offense.
“We feel good about the group that we have,” Baalke said. “Obviously, Kap right now with his inability to go out there is what it is. Blaine continues to get better with every rep he takes. We have to continue that time-on-task with this offense. It’s new. There are a lot of wrinkles we haven’t gotten to and won’t until the season.”
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