More changes in the Bay, Kap benched in favor of Gabbert

The San Francisco 49ers have struggled mightily on both sides of the ball this season, that being said two changes were made last night. The first being one of the longest tenured players being jettisoned via trade in Vernon Davis. That would not be the biggest news of the night as the great folks over at Bay Area Sports Guy had the scoop on what spread like wildfire across social media.

New offensive coordinator Geep Chryst offense has struggled to get on track under the direction of Colin Kaepernick. Heading into the year the 49ers were talking about how much they planned to run the ball and allow Kap to be himself. It looked that way for maybe three of the games played this season, the other contests were offensive to those in attendance and watching from home.

Chryst last stint as an OC were with none other than Ryan Leaf, his offense this year is right on par with those two seasons. At the bottom of the league. What was once a confident dual threat QB has turned to a gun-shy player that doesn’t trust those responsible for protecting him, that trust or lack there of has led to missed pass catchers and 28 sacks. There also seems to be no trust between the play-caller and the QB despite the two being together during the Harbaugh era. The game plan with Colin had been a strong run game, than complement it by pushing the ball downfield. That’s non existent in this new offense, where Chryst has seldom allowed Kap to go downfield aggressively. Some of which must be attributed to his horrible four interception outing against the Cardinals, still, Torrey Smith is averaging 23-yards a catch. His targets are down drastically, but during those three games when the passer was able to get into a rhythm and the run game worked a bit, the offense did move.

Three of the five starting offensive lineman rank at the bottom of the league at their respective position, generating next to no push on run-plays and leaving the QB to fend for himself more often than not. Quarterbacks get the fair share of the headlines whether the team is doing bad or good, so while it’s easy to pin the blame solely on Kap, take some time and watch some film as Deion Sanders joined Mark Schelreth in identifying a few different targets that should be held accountable.

It all came to a head this past weekend in St. Louis, the 49ers couldn’t run the ball at all forcing to pass against one of the league’s fiercest pass rushes. The one play that stands out in that game is when the team was backed up on the goal line and the Rams made no attempt to hide their blitz, neither corner was pressed on their man. Two years ago, Colin would have checked out of the play and fired the ball to one of the two wide open pass catchers. On Sunday, he didn’t even look up at the defense, he simply ran the play that was called and the 49ers lost yards on the running play. It perfectly displayed just how out of sync the offense is. A play later, the Rams would earn a safety after tackling Mike Davis in the endzone. 

Gabbert was selected at the top of the 2011 draft, while Kap was taken in the second round. Blaine’s career went nothing like Kap’s, the former Mizzou signal caller was drafted to the Jaguars and in his three seasons at the helm (he’s only played one game for the 49ers) he holds a career passer rating of 66.8 with 23 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. Hes’ thrown for 4,395 yards during his NFL tenure, averaging just 5.6 yards per attempt. He’ll be taking over starting this Sunday as the 49ers take on the Falcons, their bye week follows that contest.

There have been several reports from local media stating that this is the 49ers brass going full Sam Hinkie and tanking. While Kap signed a big deal just a year ago, it was a pay as you play deal. He signed a team friendly deal on the idea that his sacrifice would lead to more money to sign teammates that would turn into potential free agents. That same contract is what allows this to happen so easily, the 49ers have already paid him all his guaranteed monies for the 2o15 season. If released, he’ll count just $7.4 million against the salary cap. The trade deadline is later today, so many will be glued to the soap opera in the Bay to see if he’ll be jettisoned as well. The other caveat in this is that if Kap is injured, the team is on the hook for his 2016 salary.

While his play has certainly been bad, keep in mind that Colin’s not the absolute worst in the league. His QB rating in what is clearly the very worst year of his career is still higher than the signal callers on two undefeated teams. Through eight games of wretched play, Kap has thrown for  1,615 yards on 6.65 yards per attempt (lowest of his career) with six touchdowns and five interceptions. Leaving him with a career low QB rating of 78.8.

The time away may work wonders for Colin and it’ll allow everyone to see just how well Chryst’s system works or how bad that offensive line really is. As of now the Kaepernick era is over unless he is given a chance to regain his job before the season ends. 

That being said, it’s still early to say that the door is closed on Colin being a 49er. Depending on how the season turns out and where they will be selecting, the first round pick may not be on a quarterback. Thus leaving the door for him to compete with a young QB (if drafted in the mid-rounds) with an incentive laden contract. Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News has pointed out several times that Kap was at his best when he had to compete for a job every day with then starter Alex Smith.

Eyes will certainly be focused on the 49ers brass as this is the second straight season in which a big piece of their team (Harbaugh last season) was eschewed out in dramatic fashion.  The “leaks” and drama created through the media that has to be coming from somewhere, I know it certainly has my attention after Kawakmi brought up a great point in that the same two national reporters that broke the Harbaugh news midseason last year broke the Kap “loner” story this year. If San Francisco starts next season with a new quarterback and plan in place, things work out, than nobody will revisit this. Now if it backfires, Harbaugh won’t be the only name that will be hanging over the following team’s season.

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CEO/Founder of My Mind on Sports For More Information on Wilson, check out his Bio in the "Team" Section Follow Wilson on Twitter: @Willietspeaks

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