San Francisco 49ers

49ers notes: Why Chip Kelly let Kaepernick news out of bag early

Chip Kelly said there was little to gain from keeping the 49ers starting quarterback a secret all week.
Chip Kelly said there was little to gain from keeping the 49ers starting quarterback a secret all week. The Bee

Some coaches who are contemplating a quarterback change would have tried to keep their opponents guessing right up until kickoff.

Chip Kelly didn’t bother, revealing Tuesday that Colin Kaepernick would replace Blaine Gabbert as the 49ers starter against Buffalo. Why disclose it so early?

For one, the 49ers coach said Thursday, the information inevitably would have leaked out via “somebody’s mole” after Kaepernick got most of the offense’s first-team snaps this week in practice.

Second, and perhaps more important?

“I don’t really care,” Kelly said. “We have two similar quarterbacks. Our offense doesn’t change. I don’t think we’re going to outsmart people in the National Football League, where all of a sudden it’s the second quarterback and (Bills coach) Rex (Ryan) is going to tear up his game plan and say, ‘We’re screwed! We have no idea how to defend ’em!’ 

That mentality, of course, is drastically different than that of former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who treated personnel moves as if they were matters of national security. When there was a question about whether Kaepernick or then-incumbent Alex Smith would start a Week 12 game in New Orleans in 2012, Harbaugh refused to say.

“We feel like there’s no competitive advantage for us to release that information, for our organization or for our team,” Harbaugh said at the time, which remains his pat answer to similar questions.

Harbaugh’s choice for that game – Kaepernick – was revealed by Sports Illustrated and several other outlets during the run-up to the contest.

Said Kelly: “I don’t buy that – the whole stick-a-banana-in-the-tailpipe move, try to tell ’em the car is broken.”

Garnett to start? – Kelly said coaches have not decided who will start at right guard, Andrew Tiller or rookie Joshua Garnett, against Buffalo.

Tiller started the first five games, but Garnett, one of the team’s first-round draft choices, played 18 snaps at the end of last week’s game. Both have been getting snaps with the first-team offense in practice this week.

“Hopefully, you’ll see both of those guys depending on how it goes,” Kelly said.

Et cetera – Kelly said linebacker NaVorro Bowman underwent surgery on his torn left Achilles’ tendon earlier in the week. Team officials have said that Bowman will continue to be a presence around the facility during his recovery this season.

▪ Cornerback Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) was the only 49er on the 53-man roster who didn’t practice Thursday. Ward said he figured he was a week or two away from returning to the lineup but that it would be up to the team’s medical staff.

▪ Defensive lineman Arik Armstead (shoulder) and outside linebacker Tank Carradine (toe) are on the weekly injury report but have practiced in full the past two days.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at