Parkway West graduate Blaine Gabbert has had plenty of time to familiarize himself with the San Francisco 49ers’ playbook.
The latest addition to the quarterback group comes with solid credentials, though without much NFL success despite starting 27 games for the Jacksonville Jaguars the past three years.
“The biggest thing is a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball,” Gabbert said to the Associated Press. “That makes the quarterback’s job easy.”
Gabbert, drafted in the first round, the 10th pick overall out of Missouri, of the 2011 draft was handed the job in Jacksonville without much preparation and without much of an offensive line. The Jaguars are still rebuilding. And the early struggles cost Gabbert his starting job and he was traded to the 49ers in March for a sixth-round draft pick.
“Blaine is very smart and he knows the plays,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “He’s showing all the signs of developing quite rapidly and executing very well.”
With Colin Kaepernick, drafted in the second round in 2011, entrenched as the starter, Gabbert is the leading candidate to take over the backup spot. Josh Johnson and McLeod Bethel-Thompson are also candidates.
“We’re all pretty comfortable,” Gabbert said of the QB group. “The only thing I have to do is master the playbook. Kaep has been a good sounding pad to bounce questions off.”
Harbaugh is pleased with Gabbert’s progress so far and has indicated he’s willing to give Gabbert time to develop and understand the system.
“Colin is farther ahead; he’s at the highest level,” Harbaugh said. “It’s great, with a capital’G,’ and Blaine is coming along. I’ve always said, six months later you’re going to be very far along in this system, but not as far along as you will be after a year, and after two years you’ll most likely be an expert in this system.”
Gabbert has the added bonus of having three coaches with extensive quarterbacking experience in Harbaugh, Geep Chryst and intern George Whitfield Jr., who helped train Johnny Manziel for the NFL combine. That’s something that was not available to him in Jacksonville, where he also went through a handful of coaching changes and had to relearn offensive schemes. He’s likely to get extended time in this week’s exhibition opener on Thursday at Baltimore against the Ravens.
Gabbert is looking forward to it.
“Just playing against a different opponent,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to play football.”