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Chip Kelly 'impressed' by 'intriguing' Blaine Gabbert

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Most of the offseason chatter emanating from the Bay Area has surrounded the status of Colin Kaepernick. Sometimes we forget it was Blaine Gabbert who finished out the season under center for the San Francisco 49ers.

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While Kaepernick's status remains shrouded in mystery -- he won't be cut next week when his base salary becomes guaranteed on April 1 -- there is no question Gabbert (and his minuscule salary) will be on the Niners' roster.

This week, coach Chip Kelly praised Gabbert's improvement last season.

"(I'm) impressed with Blaine," Kelly said, via CSN Bay Area. "You watch him the last couple of games he started. He's another guy, you look at his skill set. He took off against the Bears and went (44) yards for a touchdown. He ran 4.61 in the combine when he was coming out.

"He's big. I'd never really dealt with Blaine because he came into the league before I came into the league, but just how big and physical and impressive he is. He's a 6-4, 245-pound guy that can really run. I thought the last part of the season he played really well. It'll be intriguing to work with him, too."

Gabbert displayed the type of short-throw accuracy and mobility desired for Kelly's ground-first offensive attack. There is zero question that Gabbert outplayed Kaepernick in 2015.

If Kaepernick is not traded this offseason, the two will battle for the starting gig.

"I think there's competition everywhere," Kelly said. "We haven't seen anybody in terms of our staff working with them. Day 1 it's a blank slate for the entire group. Let's get out there and run around and see where it is."

For as much as Kaepernick is held up as an ideal Kelly quarterback, don't discount Gabbert winning the job outright this summer. While Kap's skills have deteriorated over the past two years, Gabbert showed marked improvement over his skittish seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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