The issue of who starts at quarterback might be a week-by-week decision for 49ers coach Jim Tomsula, who remains noncommittal on what might happen next week after Sunday’s game at Seattle.
Blaine Gabbert is the guy for now as he makes a second straight start after leading the 49ers to a 17-16 win against Atlanta on Nov. 8 ahead of the team’s bye week. He will try to find a rhythm against the Seahawks this weekend at CenturyLink Field that previous starter Colin Kaepernick has not.
“It’s going to be a true test going to Seattle and see how he does in that environment,” said center Daniel Kilgore, returning from injury to practice this week. “I think he’ll do great.”
Tomsula met with the quarterbacks last week before players departed for their extended break, letting them know he would stay with Gabbert for now, then spoke about the decision in his news conference Monday.
When asked whether he would have a weekly meeting with the QBs to discuss the plan, Tomsula didn’t exactly say, offering, “Well, yes and no.” San Francisco (3-6) will host NFC West-leading Arizona on Nov. 29.
“As far as Blaine, I like what Blaine did, I like where he’s at. We’re going to continue with Blaine,” Tomsula said. “Blaine did a nice job and I liked where he was, I liked the way he handled the game, I liked the way he played the game. Move forward with Blaine, and we’ll go from there.”
A month after a 20-3 loss to rival Seattle at Levi’s Stadium, the 49ers must play in one of the league’s loudest venues, where the Seahawks (4-5) lost 39-32 to the first-place Cardinals (7-2) on Sunday.
“Blaine, he’s been in this position before coming from Jacksonville,” said Kilgore, whose 21-day window to return to the active roster began Monday after a second leg surgery this past summer. “He’s dealt with adversity, whereas Kap, he had a lot of success at the beginning of his career. They’re both doing a great job right now, Kap handling the situation, whatever you can call it, Blaine stepping in taking control of what he has to do, what his role is.”
The 49ers have had some forgettable performances in recent memory against the Seahawks.
Last month, the Niners managed just 142 total yards, fewer than the 164 they had on Thanksgiving night last year and their worst total since 133 yards against the Vikings on Nov. 5, 2006. Kaepernick dropped to 1-6 in seven starts against Seattle with three touchdown passes to nine interceptions and 24 sacks, including the NFC championship game loss in January 2014.
The 49ers have lost four in a row to Seattle and six of seven, held to single digits in their past three defeats with just one touchdown while getting outscored 56-13.
“The San Francisco 49ers have not played up to their potential or capabilities playing the Seattle Seahawks. It wasn’t one guy, it was a team effort,” Tomsula said. “Blaine’s a different guy, he’s his own player. He’s going to go out and play football the way he plays football within the structure of our offense.”
Notes: Kilgore squatted one time at 500 pounds Monday ahead of a walk-through practice. He is encouraged his leg strength will hold up after he recovered from two surgeries for a fractured left fibula and a hurt ankle sustained in October 2014. He still has a plate and 12 screws in the leg, perhaps forever.
Kilgore thinks Sunday’s game might not be as likely as him playing against the Cardinals the following week. While he might be stronger, he has paid more attention to his health considering he couldn’t run for a year — a piece of bone from his hip was used to stabilize the leg.
“Gotta watch what you eat,” he said. “I’m 300 pounds already, I can’t get too sloppy.”
Also having his 21-day window to return opened is rookie WR DeAndre Smelter, recovering from a torn knee ligament and surgery last year while playing for Georgia Tech. … WR Anquan Boldin (hamstring), RB Carlos Hyde (foot) and CB Tramaine Brock (shin) still haven’t gone full speed so their status was unclear, Tomsula said.