The 49ers may have a difficult decision to make on Colin Kaepernick’s future before long, so it’s not unusual that they want to give the 27-year-old quarterback every chance to succeed.
But if the offense continues to be the wreck it has been the last two weeks, coach Jim Tomsula and his staff may have to consider using backup Blaine Gabbert even on a temporary basis. That time may come as early as tonight, when the 49ers face the New York Giants on the road, where San Francisco has lost twice by a total of 65 points this season.
The offense has reached the end zone once in the last eight quarters. Overall, Kaepernick’s 67.7 rating is 33rd among league qualifiers.
“That starts a whole lot of things I just don’t believe,” Tomsula said of a quarterback shuffle. “I think that runs wild. There’s not a competition. Guys are playing. I understand that position is different. It’s the most important position in all of sports. I got it. But with me and the philosophy of coaching … I want a confident man, just full bore at that position. I believe it’s critical. And I believe in the quarterback. I believe in him. I believe in Colin Kaepernick.”
One theory is that Kaepernick would benefit from some down time if only to clear his head.
“Well, mental health for me is doing everything I can to help this team win,” Kaepernick said. “Sitting around, not doing anything, isn’t something I’ve been big on since I was young.”
Yet the fact remains that Kaepernick has displayed happy feet and poor mechanics more frequently of late.
Kaepernick fired several balls into the ground in a 17-3 loss against the Green Bay Packers last week, a few of which were done purposely to avoid negative plays, as he suggested afterward. But others appeared to be poor throws, most notably one to an open Reggie Bush on what should have been touchdown.
Asked whether Kaepernick appeared to be shaken at times, Tomsula said, “He and I and the coaches and players, we’re not seeing that.”
But offense coordinator Geep Chryst conceded that Kaepernick might have suffered a loss of confidence after the Arizona Cardinals picked off four of his passes in a 47-7 rout a week earlier.
“There’s no doubt that there’s a component to your mindset,” said Chryst, who hoped some tweaks in the game plan would provide immediate results. “You turn the ball over four times in a game, two are returned for touchdowns. What’s the natural pendulum swing? The swing is back to ‘Whatever I do, it may be ugly, but I want to give this team a chance to win at the end.’”
The offense will have the services of guard Alex Boone (ankle, shoulder) and tackle Joe Staley (knee), who man the best side of their line. Both took part in practice Friday after they had sat out some drills earlier in the week.
Tight end Vernon Davis will sit out a second consecutive game because of a sprained knee. Barring a last-minute change, linebacker Ahmad Brooks will not play following the death of his sister.
“You just want to get back out on the field, you know?” Tomsula said. “So I just think the guys are excited. it has been a good week or practice, but we’ve had those. It’s got to translate to the game. So we’re all anxious to get to the game field.”