When Blaine Gabbert took over from Colin Kaepernick as the San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback midway through the 2015 season, it appeared as if the ostensible NFL draft bust may have been a late bloomer after all. He finished that season with 10 touchdown passes and seven interceptions, completed over 63 percent of his passes, and compiled an 86.2 QB rating – all solid statistics for an NFL quarterback.

But after two games in the 2016 NFL season, it just might be time for the 49ers to give Kaepernick another chance, and send Gabbert back to the bench.

Gabbert played closer to 2011-13 levels against Panthers

Remember the long-haired Blaine Gabbert who debuted for the Jacksonville Jaguars as their top pick in the 2011 draft, and lasted with them till the 2013 season? That wasn’t a very good quarterback, and neither was the Gabbert who compiled an unimpressive 64.9 QB rating against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

He completed less than 50 percent of his passes that night (17-for-36), and threw for two touchdowns while getting picked off twice. He was completely outplayed by the Panthers' Cam Newton in that 46-27 drubbing. And if you also takeSunday’s subpar performance with Gabbert’s solid-but-unspectacular Week 1 performance against the Los Angeles Rams, he isnow tied this season as the third-lowest ranked quarterback in terms of QB rating.

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Two games out of a total 16 in an NFL season is not enough to gauge whether a quarterback will have a good season or not. But as Charles Robinson said in a Yahoo Sports opinion piece, Gabbert’s ten starts with the San Francisco 49ers are good enough to paint a picture of him as a “serviceable, bottom-10” starting QB, but not someone who can be a true franchise quarterback for the Niners. He also suggested that Gabbert could potentially do worse if he played elsewhere; in previous coaching stints, San Francisco head coach Chip Kelly has had a reputation of making less-than-stellar quarterbacks somehow look solid, with Mark Sanchez, Nick Foles, and a then-over-the-hill Michael Vick standing out as classic examples.

Is it time to give Colin Kaepernick another chance?

In recent interviews, Kelly said that he remains confident in Gabbert as his starting quarterback, and said that improvement going forward is all a matter of “everybody on offense” stepping up their game, rather than a change of signal-callers. But Robinson’s Yahoo Sports op-ed posited that it wouldn’t hurt if the 49ers went back to Colin Kaepernick as their starter.

Although Kaepernick’s protests for social justice and equal treatment of African-Americans have overshadowed anything he’s done recently, or can do on the field, he is, for what it’s worth, one of the NFL’s better backup quarterbacks. The 2015 season was a wash for him, mainly on account of injuries, and the offseason wasn’t much better for him. But Robinson cited sources close to Kelly, saying that the coach may want to take “one more look” at Kaepernickwhile he's still a 49er.

That means it might not be surprising if Kaepernick replaces Gabbert as starter at some point in the 2016 season, and given his proven success prior to his poor 2015 campaign, he just might be a better starter for the 49ers, if not exactly back to pre-2015 levels of play just yet.

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