Chip Kelly open to possibly switching to Colin Kaepernick as 49ers' starting QB

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For the first time since training camp, Colin Kaepernick might have a legitimate chance to reclaim the San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback job.

Blaine Gabbert struggled Thursday night in another ineffective performance in the 49ers’ 33-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Although Gabbert was effective scrambling (10 rushes, 70 yards, TD) — as he has been through the first five games this season — his passing numbers (18-of-31, 162 yards, TD, two interceptions) once again were poor.

Kaepernick has been the talk of the NFL this season for everything but his play. His preseason protest during the national anthem sparked a national debate and landed him on the cover of Time magazine, but his health and ineffective play in practice and the preseason kept him planted on the bench behind Gabbert.

Colin Kaepernick (center) could finally have a chance to start at QB again for the San Francisco 49ers. (AP)
Colin Kaepernick (center) could finally have a chance to start at QB again for the San Francisco 49ers. (AP)

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Now five games into a 1-4 season that has seen the 49ers drop four straight after a somewhat promising opener, head coach Chip Kelly might not have much choice but to make a change. Previously, he has suggested that Kaepernick has not been healthy enough to play — but then why is he listed as the backup to Gabbert and not the third-stringer behind Christian Ponder?

Kelly was asked about Gabbert’s status after the loss to the Cardinals and was vague. But the head coach for the first time hinted that a change might come, perhaps in the next 10 days before the 49ers’ next game on the road against the Buffalo Bills in Week 6.

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Will switching to Kaepernick be the cure Kelly’s offense needs? That might be a stretch. The offensive line allowed seven sacks on Gabbert, including a late safety to lock in the final score. But with mounting pressure — fans chanted Kaepernick’s name as the 49ers were down two and three scores in the second half — and the need to eventually see what Kaepernick is capable of doing could lead to a change.

The 49ers considered trading Kaepernick this offseason and were well into talks of a deal with the Denver Broncos. Imagine how different things might have been had that happened. But they didn’t, and the 49ers have kept him around for a reason. The anthem discussion has made Kaepernick a topic of national debate. But he might have a chance to rewrite the script a bit and galvanize a career that once had him coming up 5 yards short of winning a Super Bowl.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!