San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly named Colin Kaepernick the starting quarterback for this Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills. Blaine Gabbert will be the backup QB. The 49ers are 1-4 this season.
In recent weeks, Kelly has brushed off questions about Kaepernick becoming the starter after Gabbert’s poor performance to start the season, saying the team was waiting for Kaepernick to regain weight and muscle following an offseason shoulder injury.
During a press conference, Kelly kept the reasoning short: “We need to improve on the offensive side,” according to beat writer Eric Branch.
There have been reports that the 49ers and Kaepernick were working to restructure the quarterback’s contract; a reworked deal would reportedly give Kaepernick the freedom to become a free agent at the end of the season, along with $1 million in playing time incentives.
Kaepernick’s last start at QB was Week 8, 2015, in a loss against the Rams.
Update: 3:40 p.m.: The 49ers released a transcript of Kelly’s press conference. Here are most of his comments about Kaepernick:
I know there were some conversations, he had to adjust his contact—?
“That’s got nothing, I don’t deal with contracts. It’s got nothing to do with his contract.”
It was a football decision?
“Football decision. I don’t even know where his contract status is. That’s a good question for him. But, I’ve never discussed his contract or will I discuss his contract.”
How lively was the debate or was it kind of an easy decision?
“I don’t think lively or debate or whatever. I think we were very analytical and sat down as a staff and watch tape and went over everything. We’ve had a couple days to kind of digest everything where we are and I think offensively we need to be better and we need to just make a move. It’s really not, it’s not [QB] Blaine’s [Gabbert] fault. I think it’s just as a group offensively we need to be better in a lot of ways, so we’re going to see what we can do and make a move here. It’s really one of the only maneuvers we can make based on our depth, where we are and what we’re doing.”
A couple weeks ago you said Colin wasn’t the same guy who was running a 4.5 and throwing the ball all over the field. Is that pretty much the same or—?
“Well he’s not, again, and we’ve gone over this ad nauseam, he’s not the same guy he was in 2013. You can just look at him physically. That’s just the point I tried to make when people brought that up.”
I was asking, over the past couple of weeks has he—?
“He’s worked. Again, I’ve said this since day one with him, he’s worked extremely hard on his rehab. You are talking about a guy that missed the offseason because of the injuries and that’s the only point I ever tried to make about that.”
You often reference 2013, he played 16 games—?
“Whatever year it was, 2014. What did he weight in 2014? That’s the only thing I ever brought up. So, we can let that go. That’s my point is he physically is not where he was pre-injury. Before that he was a little bit bigger, a little bit faster, a little bit stronger. He will admit that. He’s worked as hard as anybody I’ve been around in terms of his rehab. That’s the only point I’ve ever tried to make since day one. Hopefully we can let that part go.”