Head coach Chip Kelly isn’t ruling out any potential lineup change for the 1-4 San Francisco 49ers, including at quarterback.
“I think we’re going to look at everything,” Kelly said, via Nick Wagoner of ESPN. “I mean, we’re 1-4. We need to make sure we’re going out there and giving us the best chance to win, so we’re going to look at everything.”
Starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert has struggled mightily through five games. During Thursday night’s 33-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Gabbert threw for just 162 yards, with one touchdown, two interceptions and a passer rating of 56.1.
The crowd at Levi’s Stadium couldn’t help but chant for a change.
“We want Kap, we want Kap, we want Kap!”
Kelly now has the weekend to decide if he wants to listen to the San Francisco crowd and replace Gabbert with backup Colin Kaepernick.
The 49ers have long maintained that Gabbert has outplayed Kaepernick in practice. The new company line revolves around Kaepernick not being physically ready to play in a regular season game, especially after three surgeries and significant weight loss this past offseason.
But there’s also a bigger factor working against change: money.
Kaepernick is owed $14.5 million in 2017, but the money is only guaranteed against injury. If Kelly made the change and Kaepernick suffered a major injury, the 49ers could be on the hook for every cent of the quarterback’s cap hit next season.
The 49ers aren’t going anywhere in 2016, regardless of who is playing quarterback. Gabbert is a sinking ship, but there’s much more risk long-term in risking Kaepernick to injury. Kelly will review everything during his few extra days off, but a change at quarterback still feels unlikely.