Kelly: Preseason 'huge' for Kaepernick, Gabbert battle

Chip Kelly wants to see his quarterbacks in action before calling this fight.

The San Francisco 49ers coach confirmed to reporters Tuesday that both Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert  -- currently splitting snaps at practice -- will be judged primarily off preseason game action.

"They're not going to get hit in any of our training sessions," Kelly said. "There's no quarterback in the NFL or college that probably gets hit at practice. Really the big determination for those guys will be the preseason games are going to be huge for those guys."

The Niners open their preseason slate on August 14 against the Texans, with subsequent tilts against the Broncos, Packers and Chargers

Kaepernick and Gabbert have been treated as equals in camp practices, with Kelly saying both have "done a really nice job" with the "learning process," per Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. Inman noted that both passers are "keeping the high-tempo offense on its manic schedule, so both are likely doing an admirable job in coach Chip Kelly's eyes."

Gabbert came into camp with the benefit of working as the starter all offseason while Kaepernick healed from surgery and lobbied for a trade out of town. Teammates raved over Gabbert's leadership, with tight end Garrett Celek saying he was "taking control" of the team.

Kelly, though, is taking the patient approach, waiting to see what these two quarterbacks accomplish when cordoned-off camp drills are replaced by a real-life opponent looking to scatter the Niners into a thousand pieces.