Colin Kaepernick is not back to full strength, which is why he’s currently not in the running to be the 49ers’ No. 1 quarterback, coach Chip Kelly said Monday.
“Kap is our No. 2 right now,” Kelly said. “Everyone wants to know why Kap isn’t our No. 1. I don’t think Kap is 100 percent right now.”
A visual aided Kelly’s remarks. While the coach held his day-after-game news conference, Kaepernick was on a field about 100 yards away throwing a medicine ball in the air and going through a workout. Monday is the players’ sole day off during the week, and Kaepernick was the only 49er working out at that point.
Earlier this year, Kelly noted Kaepernick was not yet back to his optimal 225 pounds after surgeries on his shoulder, knee and thumb in November and January. The procedures left him unable to lift weights and train normally until the start of the summer.
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Kaepernick has said he’s close to his target weight but has not revealed that number. He started the 49ers’ fourth preseason game and played three mop-up snaps at the end of the Week 1 win over the Los Angeles Rams. He did not play in the last two games.
Still, Kaepernick said he was ready to relieve Blaine Gabbert if the situation called for it.
“I’m always ready to step on that field,” Kaepernick said after Sunday’s 37-18 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. “And (I’m) looking forward to that opportunity.”
Kaepernick’s practice repetitions vary based on the opponent. Kelly said last week was a busy one for Kaepernick. Because the 49ers’ and Seahawks’ offenses are similar, he ran Seattle’s offense against San Francisco’s first-team defense.
“So I don’t know the exact number (of reps) that he got last week – whether it was a third or a quarter or whatever,” Kelly said. “He did get more reps than he did last week.”
As it stands, it appears only an injury to Gabbert would put Kaepernick in the lineup. Kelly said Kaepernick is firmly the No. 2 quarterback ahead of Christian Ponder but isn’t to the point where he could overtake Gabbert.
“To get the full Kap, to get the full potential he has, he has to continue to work on the physical aspects,” Kelly said.
Kelly said Gabbert played “OK” on Sunday. Gabbert threw for only 119 yards, 40 in a meaningless fourth quarter.
Kelly has zeroed in on his team’s deficiency on third down; the 49ers converted only 4 of 15 third-down opportunities and were 0 of 10 entering the fourth quarter.
Gabbert, however, wasn’t sacked, and his lone turnover, an interception, came on a pass wide receiver Quinton Patton could have caught.
“I think sometimes everybody wants to (target) specifically the quarterback, but it’s not like the offensive line is playing tremendous, the running backs are doing everything, and we’re just not getting good quarterback play,” Kelly said. “I think it’s the entire group offensively.”
Kelly also noted the 49ers have played three of the league’s top defenses in the first three weeks. If the offense plays better at home Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, whose defense ranks 22nd, fewer fans will be clamoring for the backup quarterback.
“If we score 65 touchdowns next week, I don’t see (Kaepernick) getting a shot,” Kelly said.
Injuries – Kelly had no update on the injuries that forced cornerback Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) and tight end Vance McDonald (hip) out of Sunday’s game.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith dealt with a sprained ankle but returned to the game. Tight end Garrett Celek suffered a hip injury but also returned.