49ers name Kaepernick starting quarterback
SANTA CLARA >> The San Francisco 49ers are putting their future back into Colin Kaepernick’s hands.
Coach Chip Kelly announced the decision Tuesday to bench Blaine Gabbert and to give back the starting job that Kaepernick lost midway through last season. Kaepernick has only played briefly in the opener but has generated attention with his refusal to stand for the national anthem as a form of protest.
“We were very analytical and sat down as a staff and watched tape and went over everything,” said Kelly. “We’ve had a couple days to digest everything where we are. I think offensively, we just need to be better and we just need to make a move.”
Gabbert has struggled this season for San Francisco (1-4). He is last in the NFL in yards per attempt (5.9) and has the second-worst passer rating (69.6) in the league.
“It’s not Blaine’s fault,” said Kelly. “I think as a group, offensively we need to be better in a lot of ways. So we’re going to see what we can do and make a move here. It’s really one of the only maneuvers we can make based on our depth.”
Kelly said Kaepernick’s ongoing protest had no bearing on his decision.
After leading the Niners to the Super Bowl following the 2012 season and the NFC title game the following year, Kaepernick has struggled. He lost his job to Gabbert midway through last season and then had three operations that limited his work in the offseason.
“I’m ready to play,” Kaepernick said Tuesday. “It’s been about a year since live-game action. So I’m itching to get back out there.”
Vikings sign veteran tackle Long for ailing line
EDEN PRAIRIE, MINN. >> Jake Long was just waiting for that call from an NFL team, confident his right knee was healthy again and thus frustrated to be out of action.
The Minnesota Vikings, with both a former coach and quarterback of Long’s as a bonus, finally checked in on the other end of the line.
“I know the type of player that I am, and I’ve still got a lot of football left,” Long said Tuesday after his first practice with the team, taking most of his turns at left tackle.
“It was frustrating, but like I said, I kept my head down, rehabbed, worked out every single day and knew a call would come eventually, and it finally did.”
Browns shuffle QBs again
CLEVELAND >> The Browns are shuffling quarterbacks. What else is new?
With their quarterback room looking like a medical supply store, the team released veteran quarterback Charlie Whitehurst on Tuesday and promoted rookie QB Kevin Hogan from the practice squad to the active roster.
Whitehurst injured his left knee in the final minutes of Sunday’s 3313 loss to New England. The longtime backup known as “Clipboard Jesus” reached an injury settlement with the team before he was let go.