The San Francisco 49ers have had a trying season, to say the least, but things have looked better for the team since Blaine Gabbert became the starting quarterback. One person who has taken notice of their improved play is 49ers legend Joe Montana.
Talking to Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News, Montana praised the job Gabbert has done given the circumstances surrounding the team:
I think he's done a great job going in under the circumstances, where the team is and how many people they've lost to injuries. Some people would say it's easier because you're losing and there's only upside, but there's still a lot of pressure to perform when you go in. When you make a change like that, you expect the backup to play well.
Injuries have devastated the 49ers in 2015, especially on offense, with running back Carlos Hyde missing five straight games, wide receiver Anquan Boldin missing two games earlier this season and running back Reggie Bush being out for the season.
Gabbert is under contract through next season, making $1.75 million, per Spotrac. Montana believes the 49ers should make a point to keep the former first-round pick [sic]:
He's definitely some you need to keep around. He's proved he can not only play at the level to win games, but also in that offense. That's key in proving his worth to the team. I don't know what will happen with Colin or what their plans are with him, but at this point at time, I don't think you let Blaine get away.
On the subject of Kaepernick and his future with the team, Montana said he thinks the 49ers need to evaluate things slowly: "I think it's a matter of what happens with Colin when he comes back from his surgery. They''ll probably take it from there, first to see how he's recovering with that shoulder and see how it still may affect his throwing, and whether it also did in the past. I'm not just sure how they're going to view it."
However, ESPN.com's Adam Schefter reported on Dec. 6 the 49ers met with Kaepernick recently, and the team "has said it is open to bringing him back."
Any chance Kaepernick has to return in 2016 will likely require him to take a huge pay cut, as he's under contract to make $11.9 million with a cap hit of $16.7 million, per Spotrac.
Yet, if Kaepernick wants to start, his best bet may be to look elsewhere because Gabbert has been better than expected. He's completed 63 percent of his passes for 963 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions in four games.
Those aren't exactly elite stats, but the 49ers just need a quarterback who can create plays without making mistakes. Gabbert has looked more confident and poised than Kaepernick, so Montana's assessment of the 26-year-old isn't as crazy as it would have seemed a few weeks ago.