Why Is This So Hard To Ponder?

SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) – Colin Kaepernick lost his job because he wasn’t very good. Blaine Gabbert, who replaced Kaepernick, lost his job this week because, well, he wasn’t very good either. So Chip Kelly is going back to Kaepernick.

When the third option, Christian Ponder’s name surfaces, the media seems to have a field day with the mere suggestion that he should be in the same sentence as Kaepernick and Gabbert.

My question is, why not? What is so preposterous and outrageous about the notion that Ponder, who was drafted one spot behind Gabbert in the 2011 draft, should be a horse in this race?

Ponder’s career numbers, across the board, are better than Gabbert’s.
His rating is 75.9, Gabbert’s is 71.6. Both have thrown 38 touchdown passes. Gabbert has thrown one more interception than Ponder.

If you throw Kaepernick into the mix it’s a statistical runaway for the one-time Super Bowl quarterback. But Kaepernick’s numbers have declined steadily since 2013 when he threw 21 touchdowns and compiled a rating of 91.6.

Furthermore, he has never been an accurate quarterback and is now starting in an offense that demands it.

Last week it was reported through a source that some 49er players favored Ponder over the other two quarterbacks.

Critics quickly caution about drawing any conclusions about the exhibition season. I’ve been covering the 49ers pre-season games for 16 years and I can write a book on the pre-season MVP’s that never saw their names on a regular season roster.

What I noticed about Ponder, though, is that he brought a presence the other two quarterbacks did not. Maybe it was a certain energy, confidence, or some intangible element that seemed to inspire his teammates. Perhaps that is why some teammates are backing him over Kaepernick and Gabbert.

By this time next year we’ll likely be talking about another quarterback. Perhaps a draftee or a veteran acquired via trade.

For the time being, the 49ers have a trio of quarterbacks who clearly lack the skills to be the long-term answer in San Francisco. But for crying out loud, stop putting Kaepernick and Gabbert on a plateau far beyond the reach of Ponder. Give him five games and he can pull a 1-4 with a 69.6 just as well as Blaine.

See you on TV.

More from Dennis O'Donnell

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