- Associated Press
Wednesday, November 4, 2015

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers have made the change at quarterback from Colin Kaepernick to Blaine Gabbert.

Coach Jim Tomsula announced the switch on Wednesday as he looks to spark his struggling offense heading into Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. The 49ers (2-6) have failed to score a touchdown three times in the past five games and have been held under 200 yards of offense in four of eight games.

“In no way is 2-6 all on Colin Kaepernick,” Tomsula said. “That’s all of us. OK. That’s all of us. Everybody here on the Niners. We all take a big chunk of that. That’s a concerted effort that needs to change. This was just a decision that I wanted Colin to step back and breathe and look at things through a different lens.”

After making a rapid rise from backup to Alex Smith to Super Bowl quarterback in his second season in 2012 under former coach Jim Harbaugh, Kaepernick’s career has been on a decline the past two seasons. This year, he’s bottomed out.

He took the 49ers back to the NFC title game in 2013, but his performance dropped off last year and was abysmal for the first half of this season. He was completing 59.9 percent of his passes for just 6.6 yards per attempt, with six touchdowns, five interceptions and a career-low 78.8 passer rating.

Once considered one of the up-and-coming quarterbacks in the league because of his mobility and strong arm, Kaepernick was often wildly off-target this season.

Much of the blame was directed at Kaepernick.

“That pile just keeps getting bigger,” Tomsula said. “I want him out of there. This is a guy I care about a lot. This is a guy I respect a lot. This is a guy who I think has talent. It’s just me, what I’m watching, what I’m feeling, and I want him to just step back.”

Gabbert was taken one round ahead of Kaepernick in the 2011 draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he quickly flamed out despite being the 11th overall pick. Gabbert made 14 starts as a rookie and got the bulk of the starts his first two years in the league before losing his job early in his third season.

He joined the 49ers as a backup last year and has thrown just seven passes in one game over two seasons.

Gabbert has been one of the least effective quarterbacks in the league when he has played, completing just 53.2 percent of his passes, averaging 5.6 yards per attempt with 23 touchdowns, 24 interceptions and a 66.8 passer rating.

Gabbert has lost his last 10 starts since beating the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 23, 2012, and his teams are 5-22 in his career as a starter.

He completed 23 of 28 passes in the preseason — for an 82.1 completion percentage — for 203 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions and a 108.8 passer rating.

“I’ve watched Blaine get better each day and go about his business,” Tomsula said. “I’ve watched the balls he throws, how he practices, the seriousness and the way he prepares every week since he’s been here. He’s a veteran guy.”

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