Colin Kaepernick on Friday said he’d dutifully play the role of backup quarterback but disagreed with the decision to put him on the bench.
On Wednesday coach Jim Tomsula said the weight of the 49ers’ 2-6 season had begun to mount on Kaepernick to the point where he thought the quarterback needed to “step back and breathe.” To that, Kaepernick said: “I’m not out of breath, so I don’t understand that reference.”
He also didn’t think the pressure that comes from quarterbacking the struggling team had become too great.
“No, I don’t believe in pressure,” he said. “Pressure’s not being prepared for what you want to do. To me, I’ve played full seasons. I’ve played full seasons and been successful. It’s something that, mentally, I’ve been through before. I’m not incapable of going through something.”
He seemed to agree with offensive coordinator Geep Chryst’s assessment from Thursday that the 49ers simply have regressed in a lot of ways since they went to the Super Bowl in 2012.
“We have a very different team than we did then,” Kaepernick said. “We had a lot of veterans, a lot of very experienced players who had been through a lot of different things and had been through a lot of struggles. So when they stepped on the field, it was with a passion that they didn’t want to go back to where they were at before. And that’s something (where) we haven’t faced those struggles until now. We have a lot of young players.”
But he disagreed with Chryst’s assessment that the “margins” for error had grown smaller this season and had prompted Kaepernick to become more cautious.
“No, I don’t believe that’s accurate,” he said. “Every time I step on the field, I step on the field to make plays. So that’s just a matter of opinion.”
Kaepernick hasn’t thrown an interception since Oct. 4 against Green Bay. But he also hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in his past two outings. His 78.8 passer rating ranks 28th in the NFL.
Blaine Gabbert will start against the Falcons, his first start since the third week of the 2013 season. Kaepernick said it would be unfair to mope about his demotion.
“To me, that’s selfish and takes away from my teammates and takes away from Blaine,” he said. “I’ll support my teammates and support Blaine in everything they do because they’ve been good to him.”
No Hyde Sunday – Not only are the 49ers going into Sunday’s home game against Atlanta with a new starting quarterback, they’ll have a new trio of running backs as well.
Carlos Hyde (foot) and Mike Davis (hand) already have been ruled out. With Reggie Bush (knee) on injured reserve and Jarryd Hayne on the practice squad, that means the team’s running backs against the Falcons will be Kendall Gaskins, Shaun Draughn and Pierre Thomas, none of whom were on the active roster last Friday.
Beyond that, the 49ers also have issues at cornerback. One starter, Kenneth Acker, didn’t practice this week after being diagnosed Tuesday with a concussion that was not identified when it happened last Sunday in St. Louis. Acker left the game with what doctors thought was a shoulder or chest injury and returned to the contest.
When he complained he didn’t feel well Tuesday, team doctors diagnosed a concussion.
The team’s other starter, Tramaine Brock, has a shin bruise and was limited in practice all week. The top backup at the position, Keith Reaser, has a sprained ankle and also was limited in Thursday’s and Friday’s session.
That leaves Dontae Johnson as the only healthy backup, although Jimmie Ward could play cornerback in a pinch. The Falcons, meanwhile, boast the league’s top receiver in Julio Jones and the NFC’s most prolific passer in Matt Ryan.
Fined – The 49ers-Rams game last Sunday had 25 accepted penalties but only two fines. Rams linebacker Akeem Ayers was levied a $8,681 fine for unnecessary roughness and Ahmad Brooks was docked $17,363 for a horse-collar tackle on one of two plays in which he was called for a face mask.
Not fined – The Rams’ Cody Davis, who may have given Reggie Bush an out-of-bounds shove on the play in which Bush hurt his knee, and Anquan Boldin, who shoved a Rams player even though Boldin was not playing due to a hamstring injury, both went without fines from the league.