For all intensive purposes, the season begins anew when the San Francisco 49ers kickoff in Buffalo tomorrow. With Chip Kelly making the most predictable quarterback switch this season, Blaine Gabbert will take a seat and be replaced by fan favorite, and most likely alternative, Colin Kaepernick.
This morning, ESPN has the Buffalo Bills with a 71.9% chance of winning tomorrow. Of note, the 49ers are also playing their second game in the eastern time zone. The last time they did that was week two at Carolina, a game they lost 46-27.
Picking a winner tomorrow has the added nuance of the quarterback change. Outside of Chip Kelly and Colin Kaepernick himself, does anybody really know what they’re getting?
Colin Kaepernick has been his best when the stakes are high and the boos are loud. Sunday falls into that category. https://t.co/7A1H3buOis
— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) October 15, 2016
An interesting piece in the Sacramento Bee chronicles Kap’s sophomore season at Nevada. In 2008 against UNLV, former coach Chris Ault spoke of a breakout performance where his young quarterback came of the bench to go for 240 rushing yards and three touchdowns. They’d beat UNLV 49-27.
Winners and Losers: 3 up and 3 down
Chip Misunderstood: Can Chip Kelly change league perceptions of him?
Kap Finally: Fans in San Francisco finally get their wish
S.F. Redux: Why Gabbert should give way to Kaepernick
Niners Numbers: What the numbers say about San Francisco and the Bills
Kap In Perspective: The QB switch in San Francisco guarantees little other than change
It’s also the same explosiveness fans saw in the 2012 season and that magical Super Bowl run under then head coach Jim Harbaugh. But does anyone think we’re getting Kap circa 2012, or even 2013? Time has marched on since he was benched, and the likelihood of the unknown looms larger than anything else.
Still, the intrigue of Kelly/Kaepernick 2016 provides some interesting possibilities.
Ultimately, the better talent wins out on most any NFL Sunday despite the romance of any storyline. But the 49ers on the road tomorrow versus the circus that might have accompanied this switch at home is helpful. And despite the Bills’ wins of late, I like Chip Kelly better on any day when matched against Rex Ryan.
Look for the Kaepernick factor tomorrow to add a layer, and Chip to add another. Take the over, and the 49ers to steal a close one on the road.
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