SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- While it is not clear just how much starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick will play in the San Francisco 49ers' exhibition Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, this much is certain: Blaine Gabbert remains the primary backup.
“Blaine is that guy right now,” coach Jim Harbaugh said Friday when asked who the team’s No. 2 quarterback was heading into the weekend.
Gabbert, a former No. 10 overall draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars and acquired in March for a sixth-round draft pick, is still followed on the depth chart by Josh Johnson and McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
In two preseason games, though, Gabbert is a combined 11-for-25 passing for 60 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns.
“Protecting the ball is the No. 1 thing that the quarterback has to do,” Gabbert, who has started 27 of the 28 NFL games in which he’s played, said after last week’s exhibition game.
“My job, which I’m focusing on, is not turning the football over.”
And while Harbaugh needs his backup quarterback in general, Gabbert in particular, to stop turning the ball over, the coach is not putting it all at Gabbert's feet.
Not when Johnson has lost two fumbles and Bethel-Thompson has been picked off twice and the 49ers have been outscored by a combined 57-3 in the exhibition season.
“I don’t judge it off of just those,” Harbaugh said when asked about Gabbert’s poor statistics thus far. “I’ve been pretty clear what I thought we needed to get better as, as a unit -- a team-oriented offense that has precision and plays well together, all 11. And that’s what we’ve been striving for.
“We’ve had a good week, feel like we’ve made progress and hopefully that progress shows up on Sunday.”