Chip Kelly said Friday there’s no reason to send backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick into games for special, read-option plays because starter Blaine Gabbert is a good athlete in his own right.
“I think both our quarterbacks have the same, similar skills,” he said. “I think maybe if you had one quarterback that ran the 40 (-yard dash) in 5.4 (seconds) and another quarterback that runs the 40 in 4.5, then there’s a big difference between the two of them.”
Kelly also has noted on several occasions that Kaepernick is not yet back to full strength after recovering from surgeries to his shoulder, knee and thumb.
The last time Kaepernick entered an NFL season as a backup was 2012. Alex Smith, a good runner, was the starter to begin that year, but Kaepernick still was given a handful of snaps early on, mostly on plays in which the quarterback runs the ball.
Over a four-game span early in that season, he had 12 carries for 112 yards and two touchdown runs. Kaepernick took over for Smith in Week 11 after Smith suffered a concussion the previous week. The season included playoff wins over Green Bay and Atlanta before a 34-31 loss to Baltimore in Super Bowl XLVII.
“I mean, I’ve been in this position before,” Kaepernick said this week when asked about being Gabbert’s backup. “The last time I was in this position, I ended up in the Super Bowl. So I continue to work and prepare for when that next opportunity comes.”
Kelly’s first starting quarterback with the Eagles, Michael Vick, was an excellent runner. But the ones who came after Vick – including Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford – are not known for their athleticism.
Kelly noted he now has three quarterbacks – Christian Ponder will begin the season as San Francisco’s No. 3 passer – who can get out of the pocket or run the read option and make gains with their feet.
“All three of them have that aspect in them, all three of them have done it in the preseason,” Kelly said. “Christian pulled one in the Broncos game and scored a touchdown from 20-something (yards) out.”
The 49ers’ quarterbacks combined for 241 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in the preseason.
Reid to kneel – Safety Eric Reid said he planned to kneel beside Kaepernick during the national anthem for a second consecutive game.
Other NFL players, such as Seattle’s Jeremy Lane and Denver’s Brandon Marshall, a college teammate of Kaepernick’s, also have chosen not to stand during recent anthem ceremonies. Reid said he’s heard from a number of other players, as well.
“A lot of guys who have been supportive,” he said. “They want to be involved. A lot of guys ... they don’t know if they’re comfortable with the kneeling. But they do support the cause. They’re looking for ways to get involved. I applaud them for that.”
A day earlier, the 49ers Foundation pledged $1 million to two Bay Area foundations to improve racial and economic inequities, which Reid called “huge.”
“Any time you do something – a protest – you know there’s going to be backlash,” he said. “You know you can’t satisfy (everybody). But for our organization to step up, it feels like we’re supported by the NFL. That’s huge. It gives substance to what we’re doing. Our owners believe in what we’re doing. It kind of gives me encouragement to move forward.”
Et cetera – Kelly said that starting right guard Anthony Davis likely would be the team’s backup tackle on both the right and left side to start the season. Davis played right tackle from 2010 to 2014.
▪ Nickel cornerback Chris Davis missed a second day of practice with a hamstring strain. If Davis can’t play Monday, the 49ers could move cornerback Jimmie Ward to the inside on obvious passing downs or could even use Reid as a nickel cornerback.
▪ Defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey practiced Friday after taking Thursday’s session off. Dorsey is coming back from an ACL tear suffered Nov. 22.