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The 49ers were in the market for a backup quarterback and a backup offensive tackle.
Without much risk involved, the 49ers filled both needs on the first day of the new league year with players whose stocks have fallen dramatically in the short time they've been in the NFL.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert was the No. 10 overall selection in 2011. Tackle Jonathan Martin was selected No. 42 overall a year later.
And all the 49ers gave up was a sixth-round selection to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Gabbert (although there could be a conditional pick in 2015 that’s contingent on his play time) and a conditional 2015 seventh-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for Martin. (The Dolphins get the 49ers’ pick only if Martin is on the team’s 53-man roster to open the season.)
For the second year in a row, the 49ers have acquired the front-runner to be backup quarterback through a trade for a late-round pick. Last year, the 49ers acquired Colt McCoy from the Cleveland Browns for a seventh-round pick, as well as a move back nine spots from the end of the fifth round to near the top of the sixth.
Gabbert had no future with the Jaguars, who had recently signed Chad Henne to a contract extension. The regime that drafted him is no longer around, so that made it easier for a deal to get accomplished.
“I had a nice talk with him,” general manager David Caldwell said of Gabbert on Tuesday on a conference call with Jacksonville reporters. “He’s been great for us. In my time here, he has been a great teammate. His teammates like him. Our coaches liked him. I liked him. I have nothing but respect for Blaine and how he went about his business and how he worked and how he competed.
“I know we’re sending him to a good situation. That’s what I told him at the end of (last season): ‘If something does come about, I’m going to try to send you to the best situation possible.’ Something did come about and it’s the best situation possible for him.”
The 49ers were never sold on McCoy as the team’s backup last season. He remains unsigned as a free agent. And McLeod Bethel-Thompson, the only other quarterback on the team behind Colin Kaepernick, has never taken a snap in an NFL game.
Gabbert is bright, has good size (6 foot 4, 235 pounds) and can make all the throws. But he struggled mightily with the Jaguars. He did not perform well, and he had a sub-standard supporting cast around him.
And considering the 49ers still have 11 draft picks, including an expected compensatory selection, Gabbert came at a cheap enough price to become coach Jim Harbaugh’s latest reclamation project.