Blaine Gabbert, who finished the 2016 season as the 49ers’ No. 3 quarterback, is the first of that group to find a new home.
According to ESPN, Gabbert is expected to sign a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals and compete with Drew Stanton, Zac Dysert and others to be Carson Palmer’s backup.
The 49ers acquired Gabbert in a trade with Jacksonville in 2014. He took over the starting job from Colin Kaepernick in 2015 but then lost that role to Kaepernick last season after five starts.
Gabbert finished with a 56.9 completion percentage, five touchdowns, six interceptions and a passer rating of 68.4. Kaepernick completed 59.2 percent of his passes, had 16 touchdowns against four interceptions and a passer rating of 90.7.
Over the final three games, Christian Ponder overtook Gabbert as the 49ers’ No. 2 quarterback. He also remains unsigned, as does quarterback Thad Lewis, who tore an ACL last summer.
Kaepernick has received little attention as a free agent, with some players and observers wondering aloud whether last year’s national anthem protest has prevented him from being hired.
“It’s sad,” safety Eric Reid said last month. “People want to shy away from him because of media, PR reasons. And it’s sad. You’re doing something to better the world. I mean, the guy got a plane sent to Somalia to help with the famine there.
“He’s been doing things that if it were anybody else in a different situation, without the anthem (controversy), they would be praising him and giving him awards for it. So I just think it’s sad that this is the situation. But I’m rooting for him, I’m praying for him.”
Reid said he and linebacker Eli Harold, who kneeled alongside Kaepernick during the anthem last season, would stand this year because they felt they had accomplished their goal of bringing attention to social justice issues such as police brutality.
Kaepernick also has indicated, through proxies, that he intends to stand this season if he is on an NFL roster.