Chip Kelly names Colin Kaepernick the 49ers’ starting QB for Week 5


Chip Kelly spoke in the media tent Tuesday morning. Here’s a transcript.

KELLY: Just to announce that we’re going to make a move at quarterback. We’re going to start Colin this week. Making the announcement so he can run with the 1s. I believe you’ve got to do it at the beginning of the week just because of how reps are distributed. Our 1s obviously get more reps than our 2s during the week of practice. So, to get him to run with the 1s, you’ve got to do it at the beginning of the week. We’ll see where we go from there.

Q: There was some conversation that Colin has to adjust his contract.

KELLY: I don’t deal with contracts.

Q: This is simply a football decision?

KELLY: 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, nor will I discuss his contract.

Q: How lively was the debate, or was it an easy decision?

KELLY: I don’t think “lively” or “debate” or whatever. I think we were very analytical, sat down as a staff, watched the tape and went over everything. We’ve had a couple days to kind of kind of adjust everything where we’re going, and I think offensively we need to do better and I think we just need to make a move. But it’s not Blaine’s fault. It’s just as a group offensively we need to be better in a lot of ways. We’ll see what we can do when we make a move here. It’s really one of the only moves we can make based on the depth.

ME: A couple weeks ago you said Colin wasn’t the same guy who was running 4.5 and throwing the ball all over the field. What changed?

KELLY: We’ve gone over this ad nauseum. 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.

ME: Has he improved over the past couple weeks?

KELLY: Again, I’ve said this since Day 1. He has worked extremely hard on his rehab. You’re talking about a guy that missed the offseason because of the injuries. That’s the only point I ever tried to make about that.

Q: You often reference 2013. Colin played 16 games in 2014.

KELLY: Whatever year it was. 2014. What did he weigh in 2014? That’s the only thing I ever said. You can let that go. That’s my point. 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 has 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 1. Hopefully we can let that part go.

Q: Will Blaine be the No. 2 quarterback?

KELLY: Yeah. We’re going to go forward, but you’ve got to distribute the reps. You can’t go all week long and then say, “Hey, we’re going to make the move on Saturday.” But then Colin didn’t get enough reps with the 1s.

Q: What was the reaction when you told the quarterbacks?

KELLY: They were fine. They both were professional. They both understand. Obviously the conversation with Kap is different from the conversation with Blaine, but it is what is and we’ve got to make those decisions and sometimes you’ve got to make tough decisions.

Q: What kind of expectations do you have for Kap for his first game?

KELLY: I have the same expectations for our team – to be successful and to score points on the offensive side of the ball. That’s what we’re looking for.

Q: Will the practice reps be reversed?


Q: How much will the offense change?

KELLY: It doesn’t change. They’re both similar-type athletes in terms of what they can do. They both run. They both throw. So, I don’t think you’ll see…schematically we’re not going to change our entire offense to do this, because we’re not dealing with two different types of athletes. Blaine had 70 yards rushing in the last game on 10 attempts, so Blaine can run and do what we do offensively. Kap can do what we do.

ME: You said Kap wasn’t ready to play full-time just a few weeks ago, so what changed?

KELLY: When I made the decision on our starting quarterback was over five weeks ago. You’re talking six weeks of rehab between being ready. He also didn’t miss two weeks of preseason and camp. So based upon the time that we had him in preseason and camp, he wasn’t ready from a physical or a mental standpoint in terms of being ready to start the season, and that’s what we made our decision based on. We’re in Week 6 now of the National Football League. When we were talking about that decision was after the San Diego Chargers game. So that was six weeks ago (EDITOR’S NOTE: On 9/26, Kelly said, “He’s capable to be the backup, but I don’t think he’s ready to go full time.” That was just 15 days ago.)

Q: He had an arm issue in August. How does the arm look now?

KELLY: We haven’t had any issues since that issue in August. Knock on wood moving forward we won’t have any other issues with the arm.

Q: What is the biggest area of growth since the regular season has started that you’ve seen with Kap?

KELLY: I think he has gotten physically stronger in those six weeks.

Q: Did you consult with the players?

KELLY: We talked to just our coaching staff. We talked about everything we can do on the offensive side of the ball to improve. Just our coaching staff.

Q: Did you talk to both quarterbacks this morning?

KELLY: Yeah.

Q: What was Colin’s reaction?

KELLY: He said, “Let’s go.”

Q: Did the team need a shot in the arm from an emotional standpoint?

KELLY: No, it was not emotional. We need to improve on the offensive side. And that was the decision we made moving forward offensively.

    1. Matt,
      I like Kap (hometown boy, Turlock), but I don’t see a player who has been injured for the better part of the last 8 months making a historic comeback and ridding himself of mechanical flaws as well.

      If Kap can bring a little spark that’s good, but he will be hard pressed to ever become an efficient QB capable of excelling in the nuances of the position.

  1. Grant, you should have pushed back with the 15 days ago instead of letting him brush it off about it being 6 weeks ago. Also, I’d like a question about his 10 minute conversation with Baalke….

    1. You’re right. I didn’t know the exact number of days when I was in the press conference, although I was fairly certain it was the Monday after the loss in Seattle.

        1. Oh yeah that really matters. I think it’s blindingly obvious to 99% of the fans why Kap is starting now but please you guys keep with your daft theories and childish questions.

          1. +1

            Thanks for that…it’s as if the reporter part doesn’t matter and they just want the coach to admit something we all know…what’s the point of badgering Kelly on it?

  2. I knew he wouldn’t play until the injury part of the contract was done. Right on that. I also thought that he would be gone by week 5. Wrong on that one.

    1. You know Razor I cannot wait to see this storm you and the Kap lovers are referencing. Is he the type of player to make this talent deficient roster better? Is he a guy his teammates will rally around and play better for? I guess we finally get to see if indeed a storm will arrive in Buffalo this Sunday.

        1. Empty rain cloud.
          Whatever the case, at least I have something to look forward too – which hasn’t been the case the last 4 weeks.

            1. Prime, I didn’t frame Roger Gabbert. I backed him. He had his chance. Next man up. Are you backing him or are you going to be a Fredo?

              1. I’m all about the W’s. Of course I want him to beat Buffalo. Will he? Will he come in and add a new element? I don’t think so. Maybe initially but this team is so bad right now, nothing will make them better.

  3. I think Blaine is afraid of being hit. The camera had a direct head shot of him, and his eyes were closed before the pass was fully released. Maybe that explains the on again off again origins of his accuracy. This was the pass that dropped 5 yards in front of the receiver.

            1. Don’t need to listen to you whine anymore about him sitting or being mistreated

              Don’t need to listen to how good Gabbert will be in this offense any longer….

              1. Razor,
                The Blaine Train will sit in the boneyard again. But because this team is in such transition, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the Blaine Train is back on the tracks again before all is said and done.

              1. Pretty much Rocket. But that has all but been the norm with the York 49ers.

            1. Cassie,
              Darn it already!
              Just ask your dad to hire the Seb as a consultant along the same lines as Bill Walsh once was in the Org after his coaching days.
              I mean, evidently (according to some, whoops make that one) Baalke and Chip make it a daily ritual of reading his posts.

    1. Not sure if there are any QB’s that like getting hit. Heck, I saw Big Ben Rothlisberger wince before getting sacked by Aldon Smith in the not too long ago glory days.

  4. The #1 challenge remains the same. Some how, some way, the 49ers have to punish defenses with gouge plays when they stack against the run. If they can’t, the offense will be a disaster all season, and the defense will wear out no matter what the offensive tempo is.

  5. Chip, I hope you realize that the Bills’ goal will be to contain Kaep in the pocket. Please do not oblige them.

    I also think they will blitz Kaep like crazy, so please out think them and target the area the blitzer left.

    1. Why blitz him? He blitz’s himself running before the play even develops. Buffalo will just sit back in a zone and force him to read and throw through windows. Rex is going to look like a hall of fame coach this weekend.
      Between the run defense, no WR’s and now old wind up, its gonna be a thrashing!

  6. Grant: Are you going to make some calls to find out if Kap’s has signed a revised contract or not. To me that is critical. If the 49ers have given Kap the option to walk away after this year, they might just as well let him go now. What is the use of Kap playing well the rest of the year and then become an unrestricted free agent free to sign with anyone.

    I don’t think the 49ers should give up their leverage. They should get an insurance policy against Kap getting injured and let him play under his existing contract. If he plays well, they have him under contract for 2017. If he sucks, they can cut him after the year and owe him nothing. If he does get injured, they can collect on the insurance policy and cut him after 2017. Win. Win. Win…

      1. Prediction he gets hurt again soon after starting and will need surgery that will keep him on the roster through the deadline again.

        He won’t make any receiver shine, there will be plenty of dropped passes. We will all complain of similar things that we did with BG because, guess what,they are so similar in their poor play.

        1. East, I beg to differ. The WRs will start running full speed and the offense will start humming. I expect Torrey to have a long catch.

          Hopefully, Vance will be still be out, so there will be less drops.

          Kaep will make Chip look like a genius, but he will just say shucks, the fix was easy with a SB QB.

          1. Doubt you’ll see much of a change from the receivers. More dropped passes or worse…

            Kap will not make anyone forget Gabbert much less make Chip Kelly look like a genius. If he’s not desperate why wait until you’ve lost so many games? No, he knows Kaps limitations but sees no other alternatives (because the team has none – thanks York/Baalke). Chip’s stock will continue to fall after this move.

            1. Sorry, East, I am more optimistic. The Niner players are a proud group, and want to prove the doubters wrong.

              The squad does have talent, and all the poaching of the cut players after the 53 cuts just proves that other teams saw that talent, too.

              1. Seb,

                This same proud group was playing so poorly for the last couple of weeks that we rank near dead last in every meaningful category. If you think that Kap can wave his arm over the field and change all that, then you must be in some serious need of a detox or psychotherapy! If you think that somehow the team players were holding back on Gabbert, then that is even worse!

                The fact is the team is pretty lousy at this moment and isn’t getting better. Kap coming in is a desperation move akin to pulling a goalie, usually doesn’t bring results and ends generally with bigger problems. But doing nothing isn’t helping either so you may as well.

                Kap’s issues are the same: cant read the field, locks onto receivers, has poor footwork, doesn’t throw that accurately, sees phantom pressure and ends up taking unnecessary sacks or takes off too early from the pocket, wastes time calling plays, makes poor decisions on the field way too often, he can be rather churlish and he cannot throw with touch!

                I know your counter arguments SP QB, Nevada, Line, Baalke, etc. Not one of these addresses the fact that he just doesn’t play all that well on the field. Other teams know this and do not fear him, they want him in as they may get more interceptions!

                I would like to see him succeed, but I cannot ignore that he is a very limited QB and his one trick has been played. He isn’t as good a passer as Cam Newton (nor has he developed or grown like him-quite the opposite), nor as smart or accurate as Russell Wilson, two other mobile QBs. You look at other QBs, even some young ones and they will put to shame our current stable (this includes Gabbert as I am not a fan of his either).

                It isn’t about optimism either. I am hopeful that the team will improve, but I’m not holding my breath. This stinker has been cooked up by the Yorks for some time who found a way to slay the one golden egg laying goose they found by mistake!

                Kap, even if he is better than Gabbert he would score maybe one touchdown more per game. And this is being generous because Kap has special trouble in the red zone! That wont cut it.

              2. EC,

                That sums it up pretty well. There is really nothing this team can do to turn things around because the talent just isn’t there to do it. Kelly said himself that this is really all they can do due to the lack of depth.

                There was an article at KNBR that really hammered Baalke, but there was some truth to it. He really has left the cupboard bare here in the key areas you need to be competitive.

              3. Not to excuse Baalke, but the team lost so much on defense, it had to restock both sides when it shouldn’t had to. Losing Willis, Borland, Justin Smith, Anthony Davis, Iupati, you don’t expect to replace 5 starters in one off season like that…which means you only have so much to fill otherwise.

                Now should they have made more moves during those offseasons, sure, it would have been nice, but we don’t want this team spending money on players just to spend money on them, signing guys who aren’t worth the large sums of money they get because their a f/a.

                You sign a guy to a big deal this year but he’s only getting that big deal because he’s the only guy on the market at his position (T.Smith), you overpay for him so next year when someone really worth while is available you can’t sign him because you have all this money locked into a #2 WR.

                Yes, they have 40+ million in cap space, but no player is going to take a 1 or 2 year deal, they want those 4+ year deals and there really weren’t many players at need spots you’d want to have signed to 4 years, eating cap space, taking up a roster spot.

  7. Won’t make much difference in the W/L column. Have to have a defense and for the most part the Niners don’t. Gabbert is the first QB that hasn’t raised the level of his game under Kelly, come on man even Sanchez did that.

  8. Obvious move. At least now we can quit wondering when he will get his chance. I don’t expect to see much difference in the team’s fortunes with Kaep at QB, but hope I am wrong.

  9. This might give the team a couple more wins than expected but nothing more. I doubt Kaepernick has become better in the pocket or at reading defenses. The receiving corps has not changed, and the run defense will continue to get worse. The 49ers are merely appeasing the fan base here.

  10. With the current record the move is inevitable however with our WR’s apparent inability to shake free in their routes (Kerley being the exception) I am not optimistic about the move.Fingers crossed !

  11. Im ok with this move as long as Kap can throw beyond the 1st down maker on 3rd and whatever. Then again if I remember correctly Kap was guilty of it the last time he was the #1. Hoping for the best. Go 9ers!

  12. Today marks a transitional period for the 49ers. Today is the day they decided that Baalke will be fired at the end of the season. Today is the day that Chip Kelly is calling the shots. For anyone that thought that Chip came here to coach Blaine Gabbert, you are nuts.

    1. I think myself and about 3 other individuals were telling anyone that would listen that, but it went in one ear and out the other. There once was a dude that used to come in here and drop his hate bombs on Kaepernick, by the name of Jamaican something or other. He no longer is allowed in here due to a wager loss….

  13. In 57 career games Kap is averaging 6.0 yards per carry and has only thrown 26 picks. Kap is the starter and I just took my first drink of the Kap Kool-Aid.

  14. I hope the Kap experiment ends quickly and he is out of the picture for good. I expect to see a few “oops, look out blocks” from the offensive line. He is a huge distraction to the entire operation.

    1. No, no. Devey, on instructions from Baalke, did just that and doomed the season last year. Sure looked like he stood still and let them run right past him, but he did not give Kaep a heads up.

      Chip has put his foot down and will not allow such egregious conduct.

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