Blaine Gabbert growing into leadership role with 49ers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Blaine Gabbert was all of 21 years old when he started his first NFL game for the Jacksonville Jaguars, a 16-10 loss to Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 25, 2011.

Now 26 and a ragtag history with the Jaguars behind him, Gabbert is getting more comfortable by the day as a team leader for the San Francisco 49ers after replacing Colin Kaepernick in Week 9. And it’s showing in the team’s locker room.

“Blaine, man,” said veteran outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, “he’s the man.”

Tying a game with a 44-yard touchdown run and then winning it in overtime with a perfect-strike 71-yard deep shot to Torrey Smith, as Gabbert did in the Niners’ 26-20 victory at the Chicago Bears last weekend, will earn points from teammates.

But is it easier to be a leader at 26 years of age than at 21?

“I would say it’s the same,” said Gabbert, whose birthday is Oct. 15. “I would say I’m a better leader now from the experiences that I’ve had the last five years being in the NFL. But, like I said all along, being a quarterback, you’re in a position of leadership and it’s what you do with it.

“I think we’re handling my leadership well as a football team right now and we’ve just got to keep moving forward with it.”

Against another young high-draft pick quarterback who has had his share of trials and tribulations -- albeit mostly of his own off-the-field creation -- in Johnny Manziel, Gabbert will attempt to do something against the Cleveland Browns he has yet to do in his career.

Gabbert may be 2-2 for the Niners but he has never won consecutive starts, going 0-6 in his career following a win.

Again, maybe his past travails can help him in the Dawg Pound.

“You’ve got to be the same guy every day at work,” Gabbert said. “Come in with the same mindset, the same work ethic, the same attitude so your teammates see that on a consistent basis. That’s what I’ve tried to do the last four weeks being the starting quarterback, and hopefully I’ll continue to do that.”