Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

04 Nov 2015

49ers Bench Kaepernick for Gabbert

Alternate headline: "49ers Bench Kaepernick For Worst Quarterback Of The DVOA Era."

Look, things in San Francisco are clearly going badly. Colin Kaepernick is last among starting quarterbacks in passing DYAR, and only Ryan Mallett is worse by DVOA. (And given that Mallett is currently unemployed, he probably won't qualify for these tables in a few weeks.) So it's understandable that the 49ers would consider a quarterback switch.

Or at least, it would be, if the alternative wasn't this guy:

Worst Passing DYAR, 1989-2014
Name Years Team(s) DYAR
Blaine Gabbert 2011-14 JAC, SF -1,685
Ryan Leaf 1998-01 SD, DAL -1,388
David Carr 2002-12 HOU, CAR, NYG, SF -1,328
JaMarcus Russell 2007-09 OAK -1,261
Rick Mirer 1993-03 SEA, CHI, NYJ, SF, OAK -1,242
Trent Dilfer 1994-07 TB, BAL, SEA, CLE, SF -1,191
Josh McCown* 2002-14 ARI, DET, OAK, CAR, CHI, TB -1,172
Kelly Stouffer 1987-92 SEA -1,158
Akili Smith 1999-02 CIN -1,140
John Skelton 2010-23 ARI, TEN, SF -997
* This does not inclues McCown's 144 DYAR and counting with the Browns
this year. If McCown finishes with at least 203 DYAR this year, he will
fall out of the top 10 and Chad Hutchinson will take his place.

Gabbert was dead last in both DYAR and DVOA as a rookie in 2011. He improved from cover-your-eyes-awful to merely being very bad in 2012. And then in 2013 he put up -429 DYAR and a -84.1% DVOA in only 98 passes, nearly unprecedented levels of suckitude at that sample size.

"I want Colin to step back and breathe and look at things through a different lens," Tomsula tells Joe Fann (seriously, that's the guy's name) of the team's website. "He will keep preparing and keep doing his thing." When Fann asked if the switch was permanent, Tomsula refused to commit to Gabbert beyond this week's game against Atlanta. Yes, this could be a quarterback carousel situation for the rest of the year.

As for Kaepernick, here's an interesting thought exercise: pretend his fourth-and-goal pass to Michael Crabtree had been complete, and the 49ers had won the Super Bowl against Baltimore, and then nothing else had changed in the following two and a half seasons. If Kaepernick was playing this badly in 2015, but he had a Super Bowl ring to his credit, would he be getting benched right now?

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 04 Nov 2015

139 comments, Last at 01 Dec 2015, 8:28am by fest201620


by theslothook :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 4:43pm

I still think he would be.

His play has descended to such a ghastly level; but the bigger deal has been the media frenzy. I feel like thats why this move was made.

by PaddyPat :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 4:43pm

I think the bigger question is, if the 49ers had won the Super Bowl, would they still have cut ties with Jim Harbaugh? It's hard to imagine Kaepernick imploding this badly under Harbaugh's watch. Seriously, Kaepernick is wildly talented, and we all know the importance of good coaching.

by Perfundle :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 5:03pm

"I think the bigger question is, if the 49ers had won the Super Bowl, would they still have cut ties with Jim Harbaugh?"

Yeah, I doubt that this would've happened either, given York's "a great coach would've won the Super Bowl" remark when asked about why he would be willing to get rid of a great coach in 2014. However, I don't know if even Harbaugh would've been able to prevent Kaepernick's slide. He had been rapidly getting worse even with Harbaugh (25.8% in 2012, 16.6% in 2013, -8.4% in 2014), and he would still have a horrible right side of his OL and no running game. Of course, that assumes that the rash of retirements and free agency departures would've still happened if Harbaugh hadn't left, which very well might not be true.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Fri, 11/06/2015 - 7:10pm

Holy $&%! did he really say that?

A great coach got them to the Super Bowl with Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith as their QBs. Any reasonably good and confident QB would've won that Super Bowl easily. They got as close as they did IN SPITE of their quarterback.

I can't believe he said that. That's a shocking lack of awareness.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Sat, 11/07/2015 - 11:18am

Was it only four Super Bowls that Don Shula lost, two for Bill Belichick? If Yorke's lucky, Tom Coughlin with his 2-for-2 record may well be available after this season, or maybe he could coax Mike Ditka (1-for-1) or Tom Flores (2-for-2) out of retirement ...

But in seriousness of Yorke's comment, it's how dysfunctional people justify their bad decisions. They trivialise the good things, magnify the bad and hold people others up to impossible standards as and when it suits them. As they do so they completely ignore that they are setting themselves to continue their miserable, unhappy lifestyles.

by johnnyslick :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 5:06pm

He was starting to implode last year with Harbaugh at the helm. I don't know how to explain him at the moment but whatever happened to him was beginning to happen especially late last year.

by dryheat :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 5:54pm

The league had him on film after that, and he hasn't/can't adapt.

He is a very, very, limited quarterback. Always has been.

by tuluse :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 6:12pm

I don't know how much was film on him, and how much was supporting cast. When Harbaugh and company could design the offense to give him very easy reads and Gore was keeping the opposing defense very honest, he could use his incredible arms and legs to do damage.

When the running game declined and they needed him to read defenses and go to 3rd or 4th choices the problems happened.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 6:25pm

Turns out his ability to read defenses or go through is progressions was never the problem.

"it wasn't that Kaepernick couldn't read or couldn't make the throws, but he lacked the ability to trust his receivers to be there before he could see them."


This made him easier to predict, caused him to force throws because he'd wait too long, etc.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 8:09pm

I think there's also just a general NFL-wide "catching up" to thew read-option and QB's who thrived in that system are all experiencing a huge drop-off. I mean, RGIII's career is pretty close to over, Kaepernick's is about to join him and Russell Wilson's DVOA/DYAR has experienced a steady decline over the course of his career resulting in a pretty bad 2015 (as a passer, he's playing as well as Blake Bortles and Josh McCown.) Only Cam Newton has remained steady and that's because his passing numbers weren't that great to begin with. You should probably even throw in the steady decline of Chip Kelly's offense, which went from great in 2013 to ok in 2014 to bad in 2015 (although Kelly insists it is not a read-option offense.)

I think teams are well-versed in that simpler, more gimmicky type of offense so these QB's can't fall back on it as much when they're struggling. No DE is confused by his responsibilities at the mesh-point any longer, none of these guys are getting wide-open swaths of field to continue their bootleg into after the WR's run off coverage or pull the zone. I think defenses catching up to the system is as much of an issue for any of them...

by Perfundle :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 4:38pm

I don't think it's the read-option aspect that's to blame. Wilson still gets quite good yardage from that. The biggest issue is Seattle's OL, which is ranked dead last on PFF, and dead-last in pass protection in particular. San Francisco isn't much better, at 29th.

As for Newton, their OL is amazingly good, and the lack of receiving talent is the biggest culprit there.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Fri, 11/06/2015 - 7:15pm

That's utter horseshit. There are scores of video examples of him completely missing wide open guys for big gains, plays on which he dropped his eyes and ran at the slightest hint of pressure or when his first read wasn't open. He was the master of leaving a clean pocket early, even worse than the worst of Wilson, Dalton, McCown, etc (take your pick of the sometimes-skittish). Couldn't trust his receivers? That's ridiculous.

I want to say it was that Rams game against Austin Green where there's a brilliant screen shot of him missing the simple 3-step drop timing throw to a guy running down the seam that is about to have a lot of wide open space in front of him... choosing instead to pull the ball down and run from a clean pocket, ultimately taking a sack that not only cost them the down, but took them out of field goal range.

My memory of that may be inaccurate, but the gist is correct. And I can still accurately point to last week when he didn't even audible out of a run when the receivers weren't even being covered.

by galactic_dev :: Sat, 11/07/2015 - 12:53am

Yup, what Dave said. I've been calling Kap "Fast Cutler", but Cutler has better pocket presence and decision-making.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 11:07am

This. In addition to the league catching up, etc, come on, who wasn't envious of the catches his receivers kept making for him in his "prime"? Boldin and Crabtree routinely made acrobatic catches that turned what would have been incomplete passes into big plays. And you know how it goes, if the pass is incomplete it was too high or too low, but if it's completed it was a great throw: "he gave his guy an opportunity to make a play" or "he put it where only his guy had a chance to catch it". And DVOA will agree.

Who, me?

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 4:44pm

Five years from now Colin Kaepernick and Josh Freeman are going to be working at the same Wal-Mart somewhere, trading really sad war stories.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 5:44pm

I think it's more like they'll both run into each other while making "celebrity VIP" appearances at the same depressing club in Fort Lauderdale on a Tuesday night, spend $400 on bottle service and wonder to each other where their money went.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 4:44pm

Boy, it really is an injustice, isn't it, that Brad Johnson gets lumped in with Trent Dilfer?

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 4:59pm

Very much so. Brad Johnson was very good the year the Bucs won the Super Bowl, and had all-in-all a solid career. Trent Dilfer is to Super Bowl-winning QBs what Trent Dilfer is to Monday Night Football commentary.


by theslothook :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 4:48pm

I still think he would be.

His play has descended to such a ghastly level; but the bigger deal has been the media frenzy. I feel like thats why this move was made.

I mean...Blaine Gabbert, based on the evidence, should not be in the league right now.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 5:47pm

Yeah, but if Gabbert comes out and is even mildly competent and they win a game or two (even if it is in spite of Gabbert) then Kaepernick's career is over. You don't come back from "demonstrably worse than Blaine Gabbert."

by Will Allen :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 6:17pm

it's a shame the trade deadline has been reached, or Chip may have offered Bradford and a 2nd round pick to have Kaepernick on the roster until March.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 8:10pm

You wouldn't believe that there's actually some sentiment in Philly right now of "finally, Chip can get a QB that's right for his system! No longer will Kelly's genius be held back by his QB!" Anyhoo, since Bradford is on the final year of his (expensive) contract, most likely they're floating something like Fletcher Cox plus a 3rd rounder for Kaepernick. I'm sure they'd love to throw in DeMarco Murray as well. Or throw DeMarco Murray down a well. Either one.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 9:34pm

OK, that was pretty funny.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 11:10am

Yes, it was.

Who, me?

by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 12:02pm

The well is six yards deep, but, DeMarco Murray being DeMarco Murray, he'll get stuck about two yards down.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 12:12pm


by johnnyslick :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 5:07pm

Nice to see good old Rick Mirer on a leaders list again!!! He actually had a passable rookie season but it was all downhill from there.

by Independent George :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 6:31pm

I think it was Bill Parcells who pointed out that if you looked only at their rookie seasons, Drew Bledsoe looked like a bust and Rick Mirer looked like a star in the making.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 7:02pm

Aropos of nothing, I heard a great Parcells anecdote today on the radio, from Darren Woodson. Parcells gets named coach of the Cowboys, for what ends up being Woodson's last year. Parcells calls Woodson on the phone, at Woodson's home in Arizona. Parcells says he needs to meet with Woodson, who has been team captain for a couple years. Woodson says, "Great coach, I'll be back in Dallas in a couple weeks". Parcells says, "No, I need to see you tomorrow". Woodson says "Coach, I have famly here right now". Parcells says "I need to see you tomorrow".

Woodson arrives at the office the next day, and Parcells proceeds to go through his evaluation of every player on the roster, and every game of the past 3 seasons, where the Cowboys were a combined 15-33. He then says to Woodson, "I understand that you have to really work to get guys to show up for off=season work, is that correct?". Woodson says. "Coach, you have no idea". Parcells says, "Well, you don't have to worry about that part of your job anymore. You ever hear of a scorched earth strategy?". Woodson says "No, coach, I haven't". Parcells says, "Tomorrow morning, I am going to KILL everyone in this building, and then burn it to the ground. I am then going to salt the earth. The culture that produced 15-33 is going to be killed, and it is never coming back." Woodson says he walked back to his car with the biggest workplace related smile he had enjoyed in years.

It was a more entertaining league when Parcells was giving Monday morning press conferences.

by tuluse :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 1:00am

I don't remember the time frame he played in, but I've read that Mirer couldn't throw to his left with any accuracy. Once defensive coordinators realized this, he was toast.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 11:12am

At least he could turn left, right?

Who, me?

by tuluse :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 12:17pm

I hear he's going to unveil Blue Steel at any moment.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 12:56pm

I'm sure if he'd attended Chip Kelly's school for QBs who can't read defenses good he'd still be around.

Who, me?

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 1:58pm

This site needs like/fav buttons.

by jklps :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 5:09pm

A 49ers fan was asking me in preseason on this site why I thought Kaepernick isn't very good, and was trying to convince me otherwise with completion % and other information.

My concern was Harbaugh leaving would hurt him a lot, and that he seemed to be a "See it, throw it" passer who didn't have good touch.

Hopefully he gets better, but really right now he's not very good.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 5:42pm

Oh man, there were a couple 49er's fans who even a couple games into this season were flipping their shit when I said Kaepernick was awful and had been on a steady decline over the course of a couple seasons. Like, losing their minds. It was really bizarre. Like, he plainly was not playing well this year or last year.

But then again, FO itself has seemed to be determined to double-down on their "David Carr is not any good," "Ryan Fitzpatrick will not help the Jets win" and "Matt Cassell will be a major upgrade over Brandon Weeden" positions so maybe dead-wrong QB assessments are just in the air on these boards this year.

(Hell, I'm still convinced Nick Foles is a viable QB!)

by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 7:22pm

Hey now. Maybe we were late to the party, but check Audibles the past couple of weeks -- we have admitted that Derek Carr and the Raiders are good. I called the Raiders the best passing offense in the AFC West this week. And we're the only outfit that I know of that had the Jets pegged as a playoff team before the season, and we said Fitzpatrick would be an upgrade at quarterback after Geno got punched.

As for Cassel and Weeden, that was me saying that, and I admit I overreacted to a handful of good plays Cassel made against a terrible Giants secondary.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 7:55pm

Oh, I mean the Film Room piece that just last week was incredibly dismissive of Carr as a QB and called his rookie season "underwhelming" when he is the young QB who has garnered the most praise since the 2011 draft. The "Cassell is an upgrade" thing is also a very popular comment boards thing here - overall, I'm probably conflating a bit of what's the sentiment on the boards with what FO itself has written. Certainly, there is a very vocal group here that thinks Geno should be the starter over Fitzpatrick.

by theslothook :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 10:21pm

I want to defend 49er fans some. Kaep had at least been a part of a successful offense for a few years. We can all point after the fact how it was a mirage...but at the time you couldnt know that. Hed been trending down, yes, but even his woeful play from a year ago was nothing like this. My point is...there was enough prior body of work to suggest kaep could be a decent to good player, rather than say gabbert who was awful throughout. That hes been this bad is midly surprising.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 10:30pm

Yeah, I agree - and I can also appreciate suffering through that collision of wanting to believe in your team's guy and panic over that guy's increasing awfulness. I think keeping him around as the starter this year made reasonable sense and I'm not sure what they could have done instead. A handful of games into the season, though, it was pretty clear the downward slope of his DVOA was for real - the defense of him even a few games ago caused me to raise my eyebrow more than anything else...

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 12:43pm

His decline mirrors his supporting players, specifically his OL and Vernon Davis (plus this year his coaching staff, which has to be the worst HC, OC, DC combo I've ever seen and the qb coach was working in local radio for the past few years).

The niners offensive DVOA always used to crater whenever Davis was missing and he's been AWOL since getting hit in the back early last year. A few Arizona players said that Kap doesn't throw well to the outside so the loss of his decent inside target is going to have a larger impact on him when that's one of his limitations.

And his line has gone from very good, to bad, to abject and it matters. We all saw Rodgers playing like crap when getting harassed by the Broncos, my thinking was that it looked like watching the niners' offense with the qb looking terrible while getting thumped on every other play. Now Rodgers obviously has more of a track record but then he's also had very good coaching his entire career and doesn't get that kind of beating every week.

Plus when this was being discussed after the Arizona game Kap had had one good game, one average game and one disaster; he'd shown some improvement in pocket mobility and read progression in the first couple of weeks after his offseason work on that area. Even looking back the thought process seems entirely robust.

I still think he could be a decent qb (by which I mean average-ish), he clearly doesn't deal well with line problems so would need good protection and he'd likely need good coaching but i think he could still be successful, though I doubt anyone sees him ever becoming elite in the way many (reasonably) thought a few years ago.

I tried to explain my feelings on this before but didn't get very far. I'd suggest an average qb with average receivers, average coaches and an average line would be expected to slot in dead in the middle of the rankings. An identical set up with bad coaching might be expected to be lower, maybe dropping to 20th. So when you have the worst line in the game, the worst coaches and half a receiving corps I would expect an average qb to produce very close to the bottom of the league.

Throw in that the qb seems to have slipped, partly due to his flaws being well known and partly due to him becoming gun shy under physical and psychological pressure and then you should expect Kaepernick levels of performance even if he isn't, as some contend, the worst qb in the league.

I think this is a more accurate image than the 'pin absolutely everything on Kap' approach but most folks seem to prefer to operate with less context.

by theslothook :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 1:45pm

I think the coaching staff after the ari game made a concerted effort to neuter the passing game. Watching the rams game, Kaep rarely threw the ball down the field and the rams basically knew it. Better to go 3 n out repeatedly than turn the ball over seemed to be the line of thinking.

I can agree with your overal points, but i think kaep(like cam and wilson) needs to be in a certain type of offense to be successful. By that i mean...you cant just give kaep avg talent and expect avg results. It has to be an offense that plays to his running. Hes not a good enough progression reader to operate a standard passing game imo.

Which brings up another point. Everyone acyts like its obvious sf shud move on, but qb is a need for a lot of other teams too. We saw both first round qbs gone w the top 2 picks. Unless sf has a very clear shot at the top overall qb...and they might, i dont think they shud jump to get rid of kaep.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 2:15pm

I agree that Kap needs to be in the right scheme, when I say he could produce as a average-ish qb I'm including him picking up first downs with his feet and boosting the run game by keeping the defense honest on the back side of the play. And even then he will be haphazard and inconsistent but you could live with that in the right circumstances.

His contract is actually quite reasonable for a veteran if you think he can start. I don't know whether to move on, it's too soon to know who's available.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:06pm

I suspect that Kaep is hurt more by a bad line and helped more by a good line than the average QB. He had lopsided gifts and lopsided deficits.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:30pm

I agree completely. His footwork problems are exacerbated by his long, natural gait.

by mehllageman56 :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 10:03pm

Thanks for conflating me with FO, Chem. I don't work here, but I did argue that Fitz wasn't an upgrade from Geno. Given Geno's actual stats from Sunday, I'm not quite sure they're not the same person. Now, as far as Kaepernick, he reminds me more of Sanchez than Geno with his inability to see receivers jumping up and down for the ball.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 10:26pm

I actually think I conflated you (and FO) with a Grantland piece - although I could have sworn there was a piece on here about how there's no upside for Fitzpatrick, that he has a high turnover rate and they need to find out what they have in Geno. I'm actually sure that sentiment has been voiced here on FO, but darned if I can remember where.

Incidentally, I watched the game versus the Raiders and have to say that the stats are way over-rating Smith's performance - he's totally clueless as far as situational awareness is concerned and makes horrible decisions. Granted, Fitzpatrick's love of throwing into double-coverage isn't the finest display of consistently excellent decision-making, but Geno just runs around taking sacks at the worst possible time, throwing short when they need yards, reading the coverage wrong and essentially just doing everything to ensure they'd lose. He's just a dumb, dumb player. This is not to say Mr. Harvard is such a smart, smart player but Geno is just a mess out there and has shown little progress on that front...

(Also, Bowles' conservative nature is a bad match with Geno - that was a game they had every chance to get back into and they seemed totally determined to kick field goals and punt their way to a loss after Geno scrambled around and took bone-headed sacks...)

by mehllageman56 :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 11:56pm

I'm pretty sure another Jets fan supported Geno on a thread here, but it probably was only two of us. PFF definitely believed (and believes) that Fitz is a better option than Geno. I did not get to see the game on Sunday, only saw highlights and some commentary. Geno definitely took some boneheaded sacks, running out of bounds, but I'm not sure Geno isn't reading defenses better than Kaepernick right now (of course, that's a very low bar). He did lead two touchdown drives in the second half. The one thing Geno can provide that Fitz can't is a deep threat, and that could help with the run game.

If Bowles stays conservative when down 21-3, 28-6 or 14 points with four minutes left, that is an issue with Bowles, not Fitz or Geno, and he better fix that before too long or else he'll be saying goodbye to New York. I've liked how well the Jets have been prepared most of this season, but I'm starting to get worried about tactical issues from the last two games.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 12:54am

Yeah, but the total lack of urgency and his wr selection on that long td drive in the 4th is exactly what I'm talking about when I say Geno's lack of situational awareness and Bowles' conservatism played into each other in the worst way - that 4 minute 10 play drive basically ended the game because they were just kind of diddling along (especially if you consider Geno's big 29 yard scramble wasn't a called play, but a fluke.) Neither one seemed to understand that they were way down and needed to score as much as possible as quickly as possible, they just didn't seem to be playing with an actual comeback in mind.

It was like the whole second half, if Geno would get sacked, a punt was definitely coming because neither the QB or coach would push it down the field and try to convert. Or Geno would take a sack on 3rd and 2 - turning a manageable 4th down into something that would definitely cause Bowles to punt. Bowles wants to punt at mid-field and kick field goals from the 7 - and Geno made it easy for him to make that choice...

(But we seem to agree on Bowles tactical issue being a real problem - I first noticed during the Eagles game where it just seemed like he had no intention of doing what he could to win, despite the second half comeback. It was a weird attempt to minimize further failure as opposed to actually fight back into the game. It was a game that from about 4 different angles it felt like the Jets beat themselves. That game also featured a long td drive that basically iced the game - an 8 minute/16 play thing that sealed the victory for the Eagles. Well, that and the near-constant stream of bone-headed turnovers.)

by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:48am

You're correct that the offense taking too long to get down the field happened in both the Raiders and Eagles games. I'm not sure the drive with Geno's long scramble was the one that really killed them there. They had the ball at midfield after that down 2 scores, with 6 minutes left, and failed to convert on 4th down. I thought the stupid sack happened on that drive, but you're correct, it happened on the next one where Bowles punted.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 1:58pm

I'll concede to your analysis - it's tough to pinpoint the exact moment "lack of urgency and conservative play-calling" dooms a comeback attempt.

by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:08pm

The weird thing about it is Gailey isn't against going no huddle from the beginning of the game. He did it in Buffalo. Perhaps it's just that the Jets have spent most of the season either ahead or really close to the lead except for the two games we mentioned, and they are out of practice. They didn't lose the lead against the Pats until midway through the fourth quarter. I'll accept some of it is Geno being clueless too.

The other issue, with the Raiders game, is that the wide receivers were banged up. Owusu is gone, Devin Smith is out, and both Decker and Marshall are hampered with minor injuries. Kerley is healthy, but the coaches have less faith in him than Geno, and he's not a true deep threat. If Geno's playing, they need Devin Smith healthy and playing, just to scare the defense with a bomb or two. I guess it's good news that Fitz is going to tough it out against Jacksonville.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:27pm

Yeah, I mean, to me Bowles conservatism comes down to kicking that field goal late in the second quarter when they had 3rd and 5 from the Oakland 20 to make the score 21-6. He's just always going to punt, even from the opponent's side of the field and a short 4th down. He's just going to run the same offense no matter what the score is. 10, 12 play drives that take 4 or 5 minutes. Punt on 4th down, kick a field goal when in field goal range.

That's what was so crazy about the Patriots game - it was just a regular Jets game. They didn't seem to have any special plan. He didn't seem to have any awareness that a small lead late in the 4th quarter was something he needed to aggressively protect, that when you get the Patriots on the ropes you HAVE TO go for blood. He just kept going like it was a nothing and the Patriots did what they do.

by BJR :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 7:00am

At least in the case of Carr he was bad by FO metrics last year, so the analysis wasn't contradicting this very website's highly-prized evaluation system.

But in the case of Fitzpatrick: he measured reasonably well by DVOA/DYAR last year - significantly better than Geno anyway. And Cassell has been abjectly awful by FO metrics ever since 2010. Unless you somehow believed he was going to, at age 33, magically recapture his form from 5 years ago, there was no reason to think he would be an upgrade on Weeden.

I'm not suggesting DVOA is flawless, or that there isn't room for additional context-based analysis alongside it. But it's curious when a position is taken which directly contradicts what the numbers are telling us.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 11:43am

The Carr thing bugged me because that Film Room article was written about a week ago - well after Carr had been demonstrating a MASSIVE improvement both in terms of DVOA and traditional stats. It was just like "eh, he's a system player. He still stinks." Also, I think that DVOA has shown (excepting the amazing 2012 class) that rookie struggles are not a super-great indicator of future success. Lots of players who go on to be pretty good have bad-to-awful rookie DYAR/DVOA (e.g. Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Matt Stafford, Jay Cutler, even Nick Foles - and that's without touching the issue of late-bloomers like Alex Smith, Drew Brees and Michael Vick who had awful numbers for more than their rookie year) - there's a lot of guys who went on to be viable NFL QB's who put up DVOA numbers in their rookie year similar to Carr's (or worse.)

It also just sorta combined with the general "Teddy Bridgewater is showing a lot of promise!" sentiment out there in the world to make me irked - since the preseason, Carr has been showing triple or quadruple the promise of Bridgewater. And ALL the numbers back it up...

by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 1:02pm

Carr has a good offensive line; Bridgewater does not. I've always felt that Carr had potential since game 1 last year, where he kept the Raiders in the game in spite of having no run game and no one to throw to but James Jones. Of course, Geno helped keep the Raiders in the game too.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 1:55pm

Bridgewater has defenses keyed in on Peterson, Carr does not. The Peterson advantage is an order of magnitude higher than anything Carr has to work with.

As for this most recent game, I kinda of agree that Geno was the least of the Jets issues. Bowles conversative game-planning is really hard to get over. But beyond that - why did the Jets forget how to tackle? All season long, their tackling has been atrocious, most notably on punt returns. But their loss this week could be squared pinned on their total inability to wrap up the ball-carrier. Cromartie has always been bad in that regard, but his "ole!" style seems to have infected the entire defense.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 2:20pm

I'd certainly take Carr over Bridgewater at ths point, but I'd caution against overstating the advantage Peterson has provided Bridgewater so far this year, because the o-line has been so hideous at everything, run blocking, pass blocking, adjusting to any sort of stunts, be they pass blitzes or run blitzes, that it just becomes very dificult to evaluate qb play, especially since the receiver play, outside of Stefan Diggs' four games, has been bad as well. I think the opponent adjustments are skewing things a bit in this instance, because nearly all defensive fronts look like the '91 Eagles against the Vikings blockers.

Well, the Vikings will now face good defenses nearly every week from here on out. It'll be interesting to see how less productive the Vikings offense becomes, from a pretty low perch.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 2:25pm

Oh I think there's plenty of CONTEXT to excuse Bridgewater's play in comparison to Carr. And I've only seen a handful of Vikings games (which, to a game, have been ugly sloppy messes - versus KC, SF and the Bears) so I wouldn't want to act like an authority. But teams are definitely planning for Peterson first, second and third before they even begin to scheme about Bridgewater. I think the emergence of Diggs is starting to change the game there a bit and you won't see him running free late in close games anymore, which should open things up in other areas of the field. But as you suggest, maybe they'll just get crushed by the slate of good defenses.

by tuluse :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 2:44pm

The Lions defensive plan was almost funny. They'd run blitz every single down and be confident that they'd get pressure even with run blitzes, while also just not worrying about the Viking's just launching bombs against the 1 on 1 matchups. It almost worked for them.

by theslothook :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 2:25pm

I think its also clear Peterson has taken a step back from his lofty heights. Bridgewater is on a recent stretch of awfulness, but prior to that, he'd been playing pretty well. I think people need to remember that the bar for qb success at this point is pretty low. That Fitz and Mccown are still starting qbs suggests even at bridgewater's current level of ability, he's at least an average passer.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 2:42pm

The 2012 Peterson likely doesn't exist anymore, but he's still really, really, good when running with the ball, and the 2012 blocking,as problematic as it was (and any line that starts Charlie Johnson (!) is at best problematic), was substantially better than what the Vikings have shown through 7 games. Phil Loadholdt was a well above average run blocker. Kalil was a not-ridiculous Pro Bowl selection in 2012. Sullivan is underpowered but exemplary at making the line calls. This group, even with Kalil not being as awful as in '13 and '14, has been really much, much, worse, albeit now with some glimmer of hope, with 4th round pick Clemmings starting to get more solid footing. If Peterson was a non-moron, and thus could be a professioal when not taking a handoff, making himself an asset in the passing game, he'd still be abut the best in the league, barring what looks to be the likely rise of Gurley.

by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:41pm

The thing about loading the box, is that quarterbacks need to make you pay for it. If you don't have a Gronk or an Eifert to unleash on the other team, the other thing you can do go deep downfield. Unfortunately, having a poor offensive line makes that harder to do. So having Peterson with a terrible offensive line that can't pass protect doesn't take as much pressure off Bridgewater as you would think. If Peterson was more of an asset in the passing game that would also help a lot, but unfortunately, he's more likely to miss an assignment and get his qb hit by Von Miller.

I also think you're understating the effect of Carr's offensive line. He was barely touched by the Jets last Sunday, and he's throwing to two top ten draft picks. One of the interesting/annoying topics to come out of Sunday's game is the demise of Revis. Cooper caught 5 passes for 46 yards, so he had more success than anyone has had in a while against Revis, but that's Cooper's worst game in a month. Cooper is really really good. I love that the media is castigating Revis and the rest of the Jets right now; they deserve it, but hopefully Jacksonville is going to be really sorry about it soon.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:50pm

Eh, be fair: the Jets have a pretty bad pass rush. Their sack rate is 27th in the league. Their failure to get to Carr doesn't say quite so much about the Oakland o-line.

by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 4:01pm

True. But Oakland's offensive line is first in adjusted sack rate, and they played Denver, so they have faced the best in that regard (and did give up 4 sacks).

by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:28pm

To get back to the tackling issue, their tackling on special teams has been bad. The starting defense hasn't been having problems tackling until the Raiders game. Cromartie has always been week at this, but Marcus Williams had a terrible game, probably because they were playing him at safety for Calvin Pryor who's hurt. Honestly, they really need Pryor back, hopefully he can play against Buffalo.

by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 1:04pm

Fitzpatrick's DVOA/DYAR from last year was not only significantly better than Geno's, they were also significantly better than Fitzpatrick's DVOA/DYAR from most of his career. It was reasonable to think that one year was a fluke. Fitz has been solid so far this year though, I'll give you that.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 2:33pm

He's also playing on a pretty good offense this year - I'd suspect Geno would show some improvement, too, throwing to Marshall, Decker and Kerley (who is a fine #3wr) with Ivory out of the backfield and the o-line looking pretty good. But I do think the problems with Geno aren't ever going to be fully captured by stats alone - he'll always be the guy who tries to pass the ball behind his own back while getting sacked or get into fights in the locker room or take a stupid sack on a crucial 3rd and 2. He's just a bonehead.

by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:23pm

I don't think he's ever passed the ball behind his own back, hopefully he doesn't pull that trick next chance he has. He did step out of the back of the end zone for a safety, in his rookie preseason.
Kerley is a good slot receiver, but the Jets have barely played him until the last two games, so that hasn't been a big factor in Fitz's play this year. They were playing Enumwa as an H back, but he got hurt, forcing Kerley into the line-up.

I'm starting to think just missing the playoffs may be the best thing for the team. Cal is starting to lose, so Goff may fall down into the middle of the first round. If they make the playoffs, too many smart teams may be drafting ahead of them, like the Steelers, Cardinals (playoff bound, but Goff would fit them), etc. Perhaps missing the playoffs would make Bowles and Gailey look over their tactical mistakes and change things, like Ron Rivera did in Carolina.

Another thing I was thinking about, from the end of the Jets-Pats game. The Jets got the ball at the 49. The Jets completed a pass to the New England 37, but Decker stayed inbounds, and we all know what happened then. Why not put Geno in for a hail mary or two? I've seen this happen before, where a team tries to get closer to attempt a hail mary, but runs out of time, especially in a Jets win over the Chargers in 2011, I believe. Rivers couldn't get the ball far enough downfield on 4th down. So why not put the strongest armed quarterback into the game to try the hail mary, instead of using the starter?

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:32pm

You don't remember the Titans game his rookie year where he tried to pass the ball from one hand to the other behind his own back?! It resulted in a TD strip-sack fumble!

(The opposing QB in that game? Ryan Fitzpatrick.)

by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:45pm

Oh, I thought you meant he actually tried to complete a pass behind his back and sent it towards his goal line, like Winston did earlier this year. That's just shifting the ball from one hand to another; Matt Ryan did the same thing against the Bears one year, with the same terrible result.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:56pm

Nah, he's never pulled the ol' "Aaron Brooks special" but would you put it past him? He's that kind of player.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 11:55am

More annoyed about some people calling people trolls just because they didn't agree with them.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 12:01pm

But at least those trolls (whoever they may be!) have come on and graciously admitted they were 100% wrong about Kaepernick!

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 12:49pm

Or still think there's more context to it than you suggest.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 1:52pm

There's not much context needed beyond "benched for Gabbert, last in DYAR." There are many QB's who could thrive if placed in optimal systems with great coaches and above average offensive weapons and all of the ducks lined up in a row for them. Anyway, there's not even an argument, the writing is on the wall with this one.

Actually, it'd be hilarious if the 49er's kept him around and you had to spend another few years rooting for him. That seems like an appropriate fate.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 2:02pm

Your first sentence here is why we disagree.

Context is always important.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 2:09pm

Have fun watching the 49er waste a few more years trying to find the right context for Kaep. Truly, you deserve it.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 2:17pm

And you call me a troll? This is sub-Nelson Muntz stuff, at least he has timing.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 2:22pm

Ha ha.

by theslothook :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 2:30pm

Ok, I hate butting into conversations, but there's no reason this can't be a civil conversation, even in disagreement.

For the record, I have boiled down your arguments to one simple point - was the pittsburgh game for Kaep average or terrible? Its funny, but the entire argument boils to that. If it was terrible, then Chem points to Kaep having 1 good game and 2 terrible games, on the back of his decline in performance, as the THE harbinger of the season ahead. If it was an average game, then Karl has a point that it just shows Kaep is wildly inconsistent but that could auger future good games too.

Alas, the stats paint an ambiguous picture. The stats show Kaep had an average game, but then a lot of it came in semi garbage time. Garbage time, as dvoa points out, is still predictive, but this is something people still wrangle with.

Frankly - Chem I have to point this out - Foles has been awful in STL for most of his time there too, but you're willing to give him the benefit of the doubt - even though context really hurts him too and 2013 feels like a loong time ago.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 2:51pm

Well, considering my argument relies heavily on the fact that Kaepernick was awful in 2014, I don't think it boils down to a single game.

Anyways, I just posted in audible this week all about Foles (who it should be pointed out currently has a better DYAR than Kaepernick and Bradford) and how he seems to be pretty close to revealing his true level (which is somewhere in the neighborhood of mediocre.) But comparing Foles to Kaepernick is probably not a useful route as far as making a case for "context" in terms of Kaepernick - Foles has a smaller body of work (31 games started vs. 47 for Kaepernick) his DVOA in his best season was higher than Kaepernick in his best, in 2013 Foles was higher than Kaepernick by a healthy margin and his numbers are slightly higher so far this year. In short, Foles has had a higher ceiling and lower floor than Kaepernick - so that's comparison. The limited playing time and higher ceiling made Foles a significant question mark in a way that I think is much more dubious for Kaepernick who has started a full season's more worth of game.

But if someone wanted to argue there's not much reason to hold out hope for Foles, I certainly wouldn't argue against it. If he were still on the Eagles and putting up the same numbers he's putting up for the Rams, I definitely wouldn't want them to sign him to a longterm deal or go into 2016 with no other plan at QB. (Similarly, if Kaepernick were putting up those numbers for the Eagles, I'd want him out on the street and gone but yesterday, suffering through Sanchez be damned.) I personally like Foles and want him to succeed and I think that's what's going on here with Karl - he's confusing his enthusiasm for a team and a player with reality.

Anyhoo, Kaepernick was awful last season, the worst in the league this year and benched for Blaine Gabbert. There's not much to be said about that progression. The context speaks for itself.

by Danimal :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 5:17pm

We need to drink some positive spin Kool-Aid. That table represents the "Bottom Ten", not the "Top Ten", meaning that if McCown finishes with at least 203 DYAR he would RISE ABOVE the Bottom Ten, not FALL OUT of the top 10...

it's all in perspective, and given that he's hurt? this week... and he plays for the Browns... he's going to need all the positive outlook he can get.

by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 5:50pm

RISE ABOVE! I was thinking gurgle up or ooze out of the bottom ten.


by RickD :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 12:02am

I was thinking the same thing. I would say he'd be climbing out of the Bottom Ten.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 5:46pm

I fear for the year 2023 if John Skelton is still playing QB somewhere...

by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 6:04pm

His arms hangin' limp at his sides
His legs are just plain grim
Some defensive end's done that to him

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 6:06pm

And to think they traded Alex Smith ...

by ammek :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 6:36pm

There's a lot of SF in that table of bad quarterbacks. Which makes me fearful, as a Packer fan, of the apr├Ęs-Rodgers.

by Megamanic :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 11:19pm

Seriously, this is Green Bay we're talking about. They'll draft a QB in the lower half of the 1st round when he takes an unexpected fall and let him sit for a couple of years behind Rogers...

by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 1:07pm

They already got Hundley in the 5th round. They're set for the next 15 years, trust me. Did you see him in preseason? Why, why did the Jets draft Petty over him?

by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 1:15pm

My posts, like the Jets' mistakes, double up.

by Thok :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 7:15pm

I stand by my statements about Gabbert from a year ago: I find it more likely that he's a vicious pirate who tried to kill George Washington than he's a cromulent quarterback.

by Steve in WI :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 7:15pm

So are we seeing an actual instance of an NFL team tanking here? There is no reason to put Blaine Gabbert in, even as bad as Kaepernick has been this season, unless you actively want to lose games.

by turbohappy :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 7:29pm

Yeah people accused the Colts of "suck for Luck", but I watched every single one of those games. Painter really was that bad and that much worse than Peyton and Peyton had made the supporting cast look competent for so long. They were giving it all, they were truly that bad. IMO at least.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Fri, 11/06/2015 - 7:25pm

Worth pointing out for the three thousandth time: Most of that team's starters also started two years earlier for a team that was a bad decision away from contending for 16-0 and also not too far away from being up three scores early in a Super Bowl.

by theslothook :: Fri, 11/06/2015 - 9:53pm

2011 showed Pm was remarkably underrated as a player. The colts imploded so completely, hyperbole cannot be avoided.

I watched every single one of those games. Teams actually went easy on the colts(save for No). Plus caldwell seemed to be on autopilot as a head coach.

by Noah Arkadia :: Sat, 11/07/2015 - 12:08pm

You did? Was it some kind of punishment for being naughty?

Who, me?

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 7:56pm

I doubt it - there's so little upside to tanking in the NFL. The Colts tanking for Luck was really a once in a generation confluence of factors...

by jacobk :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 8:29pm

If you want a conspiracy theory, the simple one is the same as RGIII: Kaepernick has some hefty injury guarantees. If he stays healthy, the 49ers can get out of his contract with very little by way of financial consequences. It's therefore in their best interests to keep him wrapped in gauze over on the bench.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 8:39pm

That certainly makes more sense than the idea that taking Kaepernick off the field will help them lose. If you want to tank, let him keep at it.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 9:33pm

That makes a lot of sense. At some point would it make sense to cut him before the season is over?

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 11:33am

Financially it makes no difference to the niners: his contract stipulated that he had to take out a $22 million policy insured against injury that is paid out to the niners if he gets hurt (I think that's the amount, it's a massive number either way).

It would impact the cap but the niners are pretty flush there after the mass exodus.

by jacobk :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 1:11pm

Cap consequences are forever since you roll free cap space over into future years. At some point a GM might not care about cap space that is rolled beyond his tenure but Baalke seems pretty well entrenched for the moment. It's also hard to imagine Tomsula doing anything that Baalke/York weren't on board with, considering how he got the job.

by tuluse :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 1:21pm

You have to spend 90% of your cap over a 3 year period. So it's not that cut and dry.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 2:08pm

Tomsula is in way over his head.

To put it another way; no other team would offer Tomsula the HC job, no one would offer either coordinator a job either. I doubt they're even in the top fifty coaches in the league.

I honestly have no clue whether the niners would get a cap credit if Kap's insurance policy pays out. There was a tweet yesterday that suggested it would but I can't recall who posted it.

by dryheat :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 9:12pm

Is there no way that Gabbart's improved since we last saw him. It wouldn't surprise me if he plays better than Kap.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 6:00am

Indeed. If Gabbert's as bad a QB as everybody on here says he is then why even keep him on the roster in the first place. I'd say Tomsula's just looking to shake things up. Given Kap a wakeup call, hope that Gabbert might be more productive etc, etc.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 11:23am

"why even keep him on the roster in the first place?" Because you are incompetent as a GM and working with a clueless, substandard coach? Now which of those is more likely: Gabbert MIGHT be good or Baalke and Tomsula are awful?

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 11:36am

They picked up Gabbert as a low risk attempt at a reclamation project of a former high pick, the sort of move that used to work out for Baalke.

He wasn't that awful in preseason, though there was rather a lot of small-ball in there.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 11:52am

I'm curious who you mean when you say that worked out for Baalke in the past - their main players on offense (o-line, Kaep, Davis, Gore, Crabtree) were all their own and Boldin was hardly a reclamation project. Their front seven on defense was almost entirely homegrown. Not sure who you mean - Antoine Bethea? (Which really seems more like the kind of "past their prime star" signing that every bad GM makes.) Jonathan Martin? (Who was a bust.) I guess Stevie Johnson was in the neighborhood of ok-ish for them? Certainly, you're not thinking about Mario Manningham.

by Jimmy :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 2:28pm

Tedd Ginn, Ahmad Brooks, Alex Boone or Perrish Cox.

You might have thought of them if you weren't operating from deep within your own bias.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 2:36pm

I was actually thinking of Donte Whitner and Carlos Rogers as the prime examples, first round picks that were much better when surrounded by better players and in a scheme that fit their skills.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:22pm

Glenn Dorsey also fits.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:32pm


by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:00pm

Ted Ginn? Seriously? He had a single TD in three years and about 30 catches a season. That's not tapping the true potential of a high pick, that's finding a warm body. Those are "worse than Riley Cooper" numbers.

Alex Boone... who has only ever played for the 49ers?

Perrish Cox who could barely hang onto his job in SF and has continuously bounced around the league? There's a difference between "reclamation project that worked out" and "signed Ted Ginn to be awful for a couple years." I mean, I wouldn't classify what the Panthers are doing with Ginn as a reclamation project, just the kind of bargain basement shopping to fill out a roster that every team does.

Ahmad Brooks is an interesting example. I'll give you that.

(Also, not sure why you think I have an anti-49er's bias. I love Harbaugh, think he was one of the very best coaches in the league, love their defense, especially Smith and Willis, think Montana is the GOAT and that Rice is probably the best player in the history of the sport. You might be right that I have an anti-Karl Cuba bias, but who doesn't?)

by Jimmy :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:22pm

Ginn was a former top ten washout, in SF he turned into a very good return man and useful deep threat. That is finding value in other teams trash.

Boone was pretty much a reclaimation project from the get go.

Look at the other examples offered, Brooks, Rogers, Whitner but you still stick to your claim that Balke hadn't had any success with reclaimation projects?

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:53pm

Boone played for the 49ers for his entire career. Ginn was terrible in SF - his numbers were actually far better in Miami. Rogers was a well-regarded starter with a long career in Washington (he was only cut because of age and injury.) I guess we need a clearer definition on what counts as a "reclamation" and a "successful reclamation." Donte Whitner and Ahmad Brooks are interesting examples. Two veterans working out, that seems about par for the course for any franchise over the course of a half dozen years. Signing aging but solid veterans like Rogers and picking up busts on the cheap like Ginn are stuff every franchise does. I don't know if this is, like, enough of a set of examples to say it's something a GM has had "success" with - it seems pretty par for the course for every franchise.

I mean, Malcom Jenkins has blossomed in Philly and Miles Austin is playing mediocre Ted Ginn-in-SF-esque football for them as well, but I wouldn't say that Kelly has a successful history of "reclamation projects." Signing a veteran CB Cary Williams to play a couple seasons seems pretty comparable to signing Rogers, the only difference is Rogers was better (both early in his career and later.) It happens. Veterans get signed and some work out better than others. I don't think Baalke has a notable history - like almost any successful team, the vast majority of 49er's most prominent and esteemed players were homegrown and the holes were filled out by veterans with the highest upside.

When I hear "reclamation project" I think of Dion Lewis (who literally no one wanted) or Randy Moss (who had burned all his bridges) not veterans who definitely would've signed somewhere into a starting job like Rogers and Whitner. Bringing up Ted Ginn and Alex Boone really makes the words "reclamation" and "successful" meaningless.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 4:28pm

I said it because Rogers and Whitner were low cost signings of former 1st rounders that went to the pro bowl after there teams no longer saw them as quality starters and let them go. I really don't think that's a stretch.

Ginn was a useful player for low money too.

Note that I never said that every attempt works, that's you trying to put words in my mouth. Looking at the 2011-2012 rosters they had an enormous number of first and second round picks, many were home grown but there were quite a few others that were there as a result of Baalke liking to give high picks a second chance.

by jtr :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 1:31pm

I got the sense that the Gabbert pickup was trying to get Harbaugh to replicate the magic trick he pulled with Alex Smith.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 2:10pm

Yeah, or the magic trick he apparently pulled with Kaepernick.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:14pm

The theory dancing around 49ers writers is that playing Gabbert provides information about the quality of the supporting cast and the quality of Kaepernick, particularly if Gabbert manages a reasonable performance, in which case Kaep looks like he was dragging down all that star power on offense. It could help figuring out who to blame.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 3:18pm

I mean, that would be extremely conclusive: if Gabbert in any way resembles an NFL-caliber QB, then there's no one left to blame. I wonder if putting Gabbert in is a bit of an attempt to make Kaepernick look better by comparison. "Oh, you all think Kaep sucks? Let me show you what real suckitude is!"

by DEW :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 8:40pm

Well, if nothing else, this will be something of a test (if they let Gabbert play a number of games, not just suck a time or two and give Kaep the job back right away), as to whether it really is Kaep or if the supporting cast is largely to blame. If Gabbert plays and notable improvement results, then Kaep definitely has some problems.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 8:50pm

I wonder how much of every day Torrey Smith spends regretting signing there and in the course of several months going from "the most coveted FA wide receiver" to "it's probably his fault that Kaepernick stinks."

I feel like more WR's need to learn the Deion Branch rule: if you play with a QB and have chemistry with them, never leave them. Never, ever leave them.

by tuluse :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 9:01pm

I think you can play significantly better than Gabbert and still be clearly having "problems" as a QB.

by ChrisS :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 11:45pm

Have the 49ers actually watched Gabbert play? My God he is awful, not that Colin is good but, Gabbert. Oh The Humanity!!!

by Emptyeye :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 11:52pm

This is shocking to me. I get that Kaepernick has been bad. But to bench him for one of the few quarterbacks who was objectively worse than Tim )(@*$)*$@ Tebow in 2011 (I recall this being one of the reasons Jacksonville would've been a not-terrible destination for Tebow in that offseason, as it was one of the few teams where he would've been a tangible upgrade on what they had), well....yeah.

by Boots Day :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 12:37am

Here's what struck me about that Top Ten chart:

Gabbert (10)
Leaf (2)
Carr (1)
Russell (1)
Mirer (2)
Dilfer (6)
McCown (81)
Stouffer (6)
Smith (3)
Skelton (155)

That's an awful lot of draft value invested in those guys. Eight out of the ten were top ten overall picks.

by bubqr :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 6:38am

Not that surprising, as always highly drafted QB have a lot more chances to start than the ones drafted lower, regardless of their actual level of play, and will stay on the field longer as well, even if they suck. This is not a table of the worst QBs ever, but of the ones who managed to play long enough despite being terrible.
To do that, being a high draft pick (upside!talent!potential!) helps a lot.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 7:30am

And let's not forget that if they're picked in the top 10 then they're usually going to a terrible team.

by Jeff M. :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 1:41am

DYAR's a counting stat. That means you have to suck AND continue to get lots of playing time while sucking to end up on that list. Top-10 picks are a lot likely to have the latter occur than late-round guys are.

EDIT: (supposed to be in reply to #51)

by jtr :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 10:11am

Years from now, when we look back on Kaep's odd career path, we'll use "benched for Blaine Gabbert" as the low point to show how far he fell.

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 11:11am

I can't help but be reminded of when Bears benched Cutler for Jimmy Clausen because some idiot thought it was a good idea. If you need a defense for FFL this week, pick up Atlanta if available.

by Nahoj :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 11:47am

I'm really not surprised that Derek Carr has turned out pretty well because, and I have a friend who compares me to Jason Whitlock on Jeff George for this (words hurt BTW), but I've always thought his brother David Carr would have been a solid QB if he hadn't started off on that terrible Texans expansion team.

The poor guy still holds the 1st and 3rd spots on the single season sack record list, and I remember in particular watching him with some friends play against San Diego his rookie season where they absolutely beat the crap out of him, to the point where we all genuinely felt bad for the guy. Somehow that dude only missed 4 games in 5 seasons for the Texans, despite getting sacked 249 times.

And sure, some of that was his fault, but the Texans took Tony Boselli high in the expansion draft to help protect the guy and instead injuries forced him to retire, and well, that O-line truly sucked. I think the fight to survive ingrained Carr the elder with bad habits that he never quite overcame.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 12:00pm

Yeah, I think it's kinda bunk to read a player's body language and say "they're playing scared" but the transformation of David Carr and what he was by the end of his tenure in Houston, there really was visible proof of how bad protection can ruin a player. It's tough for me now to not see a guy who does those signature Carr things of raising both his shoulders in anticipation of a hit well before it came or breaking off his read-progression to glance down at the rush or get upright in the pocket with no concern for the throwing stance and not think "he's scared." Hell, you could see Rodgers doing that stuff this weekend versus the Broncos...

The younger Carr is totally different - he plays fearless, in the sense that he went right at Revis over and over to start the game, stood in the pocket and held out for the big plays. Whatever he is, he's not David...

by James-London :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 12:44pm

San Fran would be better off with David Blaine, rather than Gabbert. The 49ers are one of the few franchises that make Miami look like a model organisation

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by johonny :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 1:23pm

Colin Kaepernick is sort of MarK Rypien like. His Super Bowl year than first post Super Bowl year are very similar. Rypien then slowly descended to part timer/back up after that. Rypien went through is 30s peak which is partly to blame for his short window... but Colin is two years younger so it feels a little early to bail on him.