"I think they're similar," Kelly told KGMZ-FM. "They have a similar skill set. They're both 6-foot-4-plus. They both can really run, which will help keep plays alive. Obviously we're not a quarterback-run offense, but if the quarterback can run, you can use a little of that to your advantage. And they both have extremely strong arms. So, from a skill set standpoint, the two of them are kind of cut out of the same mold."
Although 40 speed and functional game speed are entirely different, people often forget that Gabbert ran a 4.65-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine back in 2011 and averaged more than five yards per carry over 32 attempts in San Francisco last year. He is not Kaepernick in terms of explosive breakaway ability and a footrace between both quarterbacks might end up laughable. But there are multiple factors at work in Kelly's statement, which curiously did not elicit a follow-up question. The answer might have been telling.
Kelly has spent nearly his entire NFL career trying -- and failing -- to convince people that he does not need a mobile quarterback to run his offense and that functional mobility is just a bonus because it can keep broken plays alive. By comparing Kaepernick (who will not be cleared to participate in this week's minicamp) and Gabbert, isn't he trying to say the same thing?
Sam Bradford represented Kelly's best opportunity to tell that story even if Nick Foles had a Pro Bowl caliber season under Kelly back in 2013. In San Francisco, he has two quarterbacks that can escape the pocket, but nowhere near the same level of receiving talent that aided his thesis during his better years in Philly.
So what do we make of this comparison? If nothing else it might provide momentum on the Gabbert train. If Kelly continues to try and minimize the role of mobility in his offense, and sees the functional mobility of both quarterbacks as similar, other traits like accuracy, decision-making ability and timing will shine even brighter.