Blaine Gabbert will not play in the San Francisco 49ers' preseason finale against the San Diego Chargers, but it's not because he's earned the starting job. At least, that's the official word from head coach Chip Kelly, who wants Colin Kaepernick to start the game and get a significant amount of playing time due to the fact that he missed the first two preseason outings.
Kelly has been adamant that the starting job is still up in the air, and that Kaepernick still has a chance to overtake Gabbert and earn the role. Gabbert started the first three preseason games, and while he didn't look great at any point he's shown more than Kaepernick.
Not too long after the 49ers gave Kaepernick a lucrative contract extension, he started regressing until he was replaced by Gabbert last season. Things went a little smoother with Gabbert under center but not by much. For Kelly, it certainly seems like Kaepernick is better suited to run his ideal offense, but the regression hasn't let up and Kaepernick has to show he can string together a good drive or two before he earns the coach's confidence.
For the Chargers, this should be like any fourth preseason game. The starters will likely not play at all, and if they do it will be for a very limited time. Don't expect to see quarterback Philip Rivers on offense or any of the defensive stars, which should be good news for Kaepernick.
The biggest news for the Chargers this week was the signing of first-round pick Joey Bosa. The Chargers and Bosa had a long, drawn-out battle over contract specifics and they've finally got Bosa, who figures to see the field often this season, under contract. However, if you were hoping that Bosa would be in action on Thursday, you'll be disappointed. He needs a bit more time to get up to speed.
These two teams play often in the preseason, though there really isn't much of a local California rivalry between the two cities. San Diego and San Francisco don't have much going on between them, unlike San Francisco and, say, Los Angeles. Were it not for the fact that there are meaningful happenings going on at the quarterback position, this would just be another Week 4 preseason game, the equivalent of a football shrug.
But if Kaepernick's fate interests you at all, this might just be a good one to tune in to.
Thursday's game will not be broadcast nationally, though a live stream will be available online via NFL Game Pass, as with all preseason games. Below we have the television information for the local markets and a link to where you can watch the game online. The game will start shortly after 10 p.m. ET.
How to Watch 49ers vs. Chargers on Thursday
Time: 10 p.m. ET
Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Calif.
TV: Away: KPIX-CBS 5 | Home: KFMB-CBS 8
Announcers: Away: Ted Robinson, Tim Ryan | Home: Spero Dedes, Dan Fouts
Online Streaming: NFL Game Pass
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