By Cedric Williams
After losing last Sunday, 27-6 to the NFC West Division rival St. Louis Rams, in one of the most dismal performances any NFL team has had this season, the San Francisco 49ers decided earlier this week to put starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the bench in favor of backup Blaine Gabbert.
The 49ers are 2-6 this season, the second-worst record in the NFC (only Detroit’s 1-7 is worse), and they don’t seem to be headed anywhere this year, except for maybe the top of the NFL Draft board, which rewards the worst teams in the league with the best picks in the next year’s draft.
Kaepernick is having the worst season of his career so far. His stats are the worst they’ve ever been, with career-low numbers in Total QBR (47.6), yards per attempt (6.7), TD-INT ratio (1.2) and completion percentage (59.3). And the 49ers have the worst offense in the league statistically, with a league low total of 109 scored and an equally league-worst total yards per game of 282.3.
So it really is no surprise that San Francisco would decide to sit Kaepernick down and play the backup, Gabbert.
“This was just a decision that I just felt like I wanted Colin to step back and breathe,”49ers head coach Jim Tomsula told the Bay-area media on Wednesday. “Look at things through a different lens. Keep preparing, keep doing his thing, keep working, but just step back and take a look at things.”
Ironically, with the plan being for Gabbert to play instead of Kaepernick on Sunday, that means it will be the fourth time this season that the Falcons will have faced another team’s backup quarterback. Brandon Weeden started for the injured Tony Romo when the Falcons played the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3.
Two weeks later, Kirk Cousins was the starter for Washington instead of Robert Griffin III. Officially, Cousins has been Washington’s starter in every game this season. But coming into training camp, he was the Redskins backup and didn’t begin to take starter’s reps with the No. 1 offense until Griffin suffered an injury in a preseason game.
Two weeks ago, the Falcons faced Zach Mettenberger of the Tennessee Titans, instead of No. 1 draft pick Marcus Mariota. And now, Atlanta will draw another second-string guy when Gabbert takes the field on Sunday instead of Kaepernick.
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, who came to Atlanta after spending several seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, is personally quite familiar with the current San Francisco squad after having to prepare to play them twice a year for the last few seasons.
“We have a pretty good understanding of the guys who were there from the offensive side, from my experience,” Quinn said. “Then (offensive line coach Chris Morgan) from the (defensive) side of the guys that were there.”
Falcons open week with nine names on injury report
When Atlanta released its first official injury report of the week on Wednesday, there were nine players listed with an ailment that required treatment.
Five of those players, CB Robert Alford (groin), LB Justin Durant (calf), WR Leonard Hankerson (hamstring), S William Moore (groin), and C Mike Person (ankle) did not practice at all on Wednesday. While three others, CB Desmond Trufant (back), C James Stone (calf), and WR Nick Williams (hamstring), practiced but only in a limited capacity.
The final player listed on Wednesday’s IR report, DE Tyson Jackson (ribs), was a full participant in Wednesday’s workout at Flowery Branch.
Cedric Williams, a lifelong St. Louisan and proud UMSL alum, has been a full-time reporter/photographer covering St. Louis area sports for nearly two decades. Most recently, he has been working as a credentialed beat writer covering the NFL, as well as college and high school sports for the St. Louis American, Patch.com, and other outlets from around the area. Please share any comments, questions, or feedback with Cedric at firstname.lastname@example.org. His work can be found on Examiner.com.