NFL legend Jerry Rice had a front row seat to some of the best training camp quarterback battles in league history between Joe Montana and Steve Young, so he doesn't need to feign excitement about San Francisco's current crop fighting it out for the starting gig.
However, in an interview with NFL Media's Steve Wyche on Thursday from The American Century Golf Tournament in Tahoe, Rice seemed to be buying into Blaine Gabbert -- something the rest of San Francisco's fan base may have to start doing in the coming weeks.
"These two guys, they're gonna have to compete in training camp. It should be pretty good since Gabbert, he really has excelled a lot," Rice said. "I had an opportunity to meet him, and you can just tell the confidence. He feels he has a legitimate chance of being the starter. Then you got Colin Kaepernick, and I don't know if they're gonna be able to, you know, that offense of Chip Kelly because he likes to get over the ball, he likes constant movement and all of that.
"So you need a quarterback that can run, a quarterback that's mobile, a quarterback that can get outside the pocket, extend plays and still have vision downfield and throw the football. It should be pretty competitive, but there's a lot of question marks and it's up to Chip Kelly to somehow put this team together. If he does that, I feel like, you're in the West, we might have a legitimate chance."
Rice, whose Pro Bowl team suffered a significant loss at the hands of fantasy draft guru Michael Irvin in the final unconferenced Pro Bowl this past January, has a keener personnel eye than some of us think. He said the 49ers' wide receiver situation could also be difficult pitfall to navigate for new head coach Kelly.
"You need to have that number one," he said. "I don't think Anquan Boldin, I think he's gone. It's hard when you don't have that guy that can make big plays. Not saying the guys that they have right now, but these are some very young guys. You got to able to have that experience on the football field. That was something that I had."
Though we knew this would be a rebuilding season for the 49ers, Rice's comments got us thinking. In addition to no starting quarterback and a wide receiver position in flux, there are a significant number of question marks Kelly needs to solve in camp.