This past weekend the San Francisco 49ers traveled to Soldier Field for a Week 13 match-up with the Chicago Bears. Going into the contest, the big story was the reunion between former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and the defense that he helped Jim Harbaugh build over their tenure in San Francisco. Jim Harbaugh bolted for Michigan while Fangio, who had the rug swept from underneath him, watched Jim Tomsula, the defensive line coach at the time take over as head coach.
Though all eyes would be on Fangio and how he would game plan for his former team, the biggest story of the day was backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert. After a slow start which saw both teams tied at 13 going into halftime, things didn’t pick up until late in the fourth quarter. First, with 3:32 left, Bears running back Ka’deem Carey gave Chicago the lead with a 4 yard run. This would be the last time the Bears would score.
Trailing 20-13 with 1:42, Blaine Gabbert transformed into Moses and parted the Bears defense like the Red Sea for a 44 yard touchdown, the first rushing touchdown of his career. With the game tied at 20, Jay Cutler lead Chicago down the field once more before leaving enough time for Robbie Gould to kick the game winning field goal..except Gould missed the 36-yarder and sent the game into overtime. That’s when Gabbert really shined.
On their second possession of overtime, Gabbert hit wide receiver Torrey Smith for a 71-yard touchdown to take the game 26-20, stunning the Bears and the NFL in the process. The win now gives the 49ers four on the season and it gives another confidence boost to a quarterback who has been playing well as of late. If Gabbert continues to play like this, could he supplant Kaepernick as the starter next year?
Although for most teams Gabbert is not considered starter material, he has done a nice job of providing steady play for the 49ers and if it continues, he could find himself as the full time starter next year. There have already been reports that Colin Kaepernick’s time with San Francisco may come to an end after this season, which if true, means that the 49ers will be in the market for a new quarterback.
With a draft that many experts feel is lacking in the quarterback department, the 49ers will need to look elsewhere..unless he’s already on the team. While things did not work out in Jacksonville (for obvious reasons), Gabbert has shown that he has grown and matured as a player and could perhaps be the guy San Francisco is looking for, not as a long term solution, but as a player who could provide a stop gap until they find another play that they adore.
Time will tell.