Blaine Gabbert the favorite to start for 49ers Sunday

Blaine Gabbert is almost assured to start Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans. Nothing beyond that, however, is guaranteed.

But with the quarterback race inching closer to the finish line, Gabbert isn’t waiting around for the official word from Chip Kelly. The incumbent starter said on Friday that he’s preparing to lead this new look 49ers offense as if it’s already his own:

“When the quarterback’s on the field, he’s the guy and that’s how I approach every day, as if I’m the starter. Go out there and just put my best foot forward. Let my play speak for itself and just lead the team.”

Blaine wasn’t the only quarterback on the field during Friday’s joint practice with the Houston Texans, but he was the only one considered for a starting job. Colin Kaepernick missed practice with an ailing right shoulder caused by an increase in his throwing regiment during training camp.

While Kaepernick’s injury isn’t considered serious — the quarterback himself stated after practice that he expects to participate in some capacity during Sunday’s game — it did leave Gabbert in sole possession of first-team reps on Friday afternoon.

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With Kaepernick sidelined, Gabbert was able to gain more of a consistent rhythm with the first-team offense on the day, leading to several scoring plays from the 49ers receivers in an overall solid practice.

With an even more physical test to be handed out to the offense on Sunday, Gabbert spoke about how rebounding from a lackluster showing at Kezar Stadium on Wednesday was encouraging sign for the growing offense:

“It boils down to execution. I feel like we were executing pretty smoothly today. Hitting on a bunch of passes, seeing protections, seeing the pressures they were bringing, getting the ball out into the flat when it was there and as a group, as an offense, we moved the ball. That’s what we wanted to do today. We didn’t really game plan the Texans. We just wanted to go out here and execute our offense and we did that for the most part.”

With a gripping command on the starting position at the moment, Gabbert can assert himself as the leader of the pack moving forward with an even stronger showing on Sunday.

However, don’t expect this race to be settled anytime soon.

The majority of questions have been pointed towards the ensuing quarterback battle this summer, though Kelly reiterated his stance that he’s going to give Kaepernick a fair shot before making any judgement:

“You want to be right, you don’t want to be first. So, that’s like writing an article in the newspaper, right? You want to make sure you get all of your information right before you write the article. Just because you’re the first one in and you beat the deadline, you could be wrong in that decision…

You know, I want to make sure we have the right quarterback to lead the San Francisco 49ers this year and I think we’ve got two very competitive guys that have played quality games in the NFL. So, it’s fair to them and even more importantly, it’s fair to the team to make sure that we get this thing right.”

Gabbert will look to prove himself as the leader of the offense during Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans at Levi’s Stadium.


Shawn Whelchel is SFBay’s San Francisco 49ers beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShawnWhelchel on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of 49ers football.