DETROIT — 49ers general manager Trent Baalke was on hand at Ford Field on Sunday — to ponder his draft options at punter and tight end, perhaps? — but he may want to consider at least one more position in the near future.
That would be quarterback, where Blaine Gabbert continued to resemble a less expensive version of Colin Kaepernick, the guy he replaced six weeks earlier.
Gabbert did some good things in the 32-17 loss to the Detroit Lions. He completed 22 of 33 passes for 225 yards, most on dump-offs and quick tosses. He threw a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions.
“I saw some consistency in things,” observed coach Jim Tomsula, who added, “There are always a couple plays in the game that you wish you had back.”
One was the crucial turnover that Gabbert committed in the second quarter, when he was sacked and stripped of the ball. The Lions recovered on the 1-yard line and scored three seconds later to take a 17-14 advantage.
“I’ve got to find a way to get the ball out,” Gabbert said. “First and foremost, you have to protect the football in the pocket when it collapses like that. You never want to turn the ball over on the 1-yard line. Plain and simple, that’s on me.”
The numbers of Gabbert and Kaepernick are eerily similar in an almost like number of pass attempts. Gabbert has the slightly higher interception rate (2.5-2.0), touchdown rate (3.8-2.5) and quarterback rating (86.1-78.5) of the two players, while Kaepernick has been more active on the ground.
Yet only this matters: Gabbert has a 2-5 record in seven starts, while Kaepernick won two of eight assignments.
“There are no moral victories in the National Football League,” Gabbert said. “You’ve got find ways to get wins.”
MONTHLY HAYNE: The latest spin of the backfield wheel came up Jarryd Hayne, who was in uniform after an eight-game absence.
Hayne displayed some obvious rust and was limited to 27 yards on the ground in nine carries and 20 yards on five pass receptions. The Aussie had a long gain of 11 yards.
“All of the running backs were in for a really good share of the game,” Hayne said. “It was really good for us to get out there.”
“He represented himself well,” Tomsula said.
Hayne also came up inches short of a first down on a pass reception midway through the final quarter, another sign of his inexperience in the American game.
“Jarryd has just got to get to those sticks, “ Tomsula said. “That’s what has to happen.”
BOLD(IN) CLAIM: Anquan Boldin made history with his 1,000th career pass reception, a quick toss for five yards on the first play from scrimmage. He became the 13th player in NFL history and third this season to reach four figures.
“I mean, at this point, it doesn’t mean much,” said Boldin, who finished with five receptions for only 27 yards. “I’d much rather take the win.
Boldin said he wanted to return to the team next season, which left many to wonder why the 35-year-old veteran would want his legacy to be One of the Best Players Never to Win a Super Bowl. Because he won’t get one with the Niners, who are in the midst of a massive rebuilt project.
Boldin can become a free agent after the season.
“When we cross that bridge, we’ll cross that bridge,” Boldin was quoted to have said on the team website. “No matter what age you are, you want to win a championship. That goes without saying. [But] it’s deeper than that especially when you have been somewhere for a certain amount of years. You have roots.”
MOVIN’ ON UP: The decision to draft defensive back Jimmie Ward out of the offense-dominated Mid-American Conference in the first round of the 2014 draft was a reach to say the least, but there were signs that he could become a core player in the secondary if he hadn’t already.
Since Week 14, Ward has been the most consistent pass defender in the secondary by a wide margin. In fact, Pro Football Focus rated him as the No. 1 cornerback in the league in that span. Quarterbacks completed only three of seven passes for 10 yards and a 10.7 rating against him. The Northern Illinois product also had three run stops and returned an interception for a touchdown.
The turn for the better coincided with increased time at cornerback. Ward played primarily strong safety in his rookie season.
In a draft that was heavy on offensive talent, Ward was selected ahead of quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr and wide receivers Marqise Lee, Jordan Mathews, Jarvis Landry and Allen Robinson among others.
SAY WHAT? The claim that Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was supplied human growth hormone from an anti-aging clinic said little about his comeback and a whole lot about the state of “investigative journalism” these days.
The next NFL game that Al Jazeera attended probably would be its first, yet the news outlet claimed that Guyer Institute pharmacist Charlie Sly had mailed HGH and other drugs to Manning via the quarterback’s wife. The aptly named Sly recanted his story when he realized that British hurdler-turned-undercover reporter Liam Collins had taken his “made up” information and run with it.
As expected, NFL bed pal ESPN was quick to give an “angry, furious, disgusted to sickened” Manning the necessary air time to issue a vehement denial. Four other prominent players were implicated.
“It never happened. Never,” Manning said. “I really can’t believe somebody would put something like this on the air. Whoever said this is making stuff up.”
That would be Sly, who admitted that he was never a certified pharmacist or affiliated with the Guyer Institute in 2011, as Al Jazerra claimed. State records indicated that a person named Charles David Sly was a pharmacy intern in Indiana from April 2010 to May 2013, when his license expired.
HENDU REMEMBERED: The Athletics lost one of their greatest competitors and clutch players on Sunday, when Dave Henderson passed away at 57 years of age. The former outfielder reportedly underwent a kidney transplant recently.
A career .298 hitter in the postseason, Henderson was a mainstay in the A’s glory years. The man known as Hendu hit a pair of home runs against the Giants in Game 3 of the 1989 Fall Classic, which the A’s swept in four games.
Henderson had his career moment with the Boston Red Sox in the 1986 ALCS, when he hit a two-strike, two-out homer off Angels reliever Donnie Moore to stave off elimination. Moore never recovered from the emotional blow and committed suicide three years later.
“The A’s are saddened to hear of the passing of Dave Henderson,” the organization said in a prepared statement. “Henderson was an instrumental part of the A’s 1989 World Series Championship club and an even more impactful member of the A’s family and community. Hendu and his smile will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his family.”
Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? (A compliment?!?) Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and you may get your name in the paper one day.