Rashad Jennings was a couple of years into his NFL career when the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Blaine Gabbert with the tenth overall pick in 2011. Much was expected from Gabbert, a Missouri product, but he never quite reached his potential in Jacksonville. In fact, Gabbert spent three seasons with the team and threw more interceptions (24) than touchdowns (23).
He was traded to San Francisco in March 2014 for a sixth-round pick.
A year-and-a-half later, however, he’s finally getting a second shot. Gabbert, 26, led the 49ers to a 17-16 home win over Atlanta this past Sunday, completing 15-of-25 passes for 185 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
It was his first NFL win since 2012.
Jennings, for one, wasn’t surprised by Gabbert’s success Sunday. After all, sometimes a quarterback just needs an opportunity. He also needs to not play in a different system under a different offensive coordinator every year – which is what Gabbert did in Jacksonville.
If not for that, perhaps Gabbert’s time with the Jags would have been a little more memorable.
“There’s no question,” Jennings said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “No question at all. I remember him coming in. It was the same time when David Garrard was the quarterback and Jacksonville decided to let him go. I think it was that Monday before our first game of the season, and (Gabbert) quickly had to grow up. I think he was 20, 21 years old coming out. He had a lot on his plate. We was going through a lot of different things in Jacksonville at the time and he was taking a beating.”
As a rookie, Gabbert completed just over 50 percent of his passes for 2,214 yards, 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 15 games.
Gabbert, however, didn’t give up.
“He was hardheaded enough that we always said he could be great,” Jennings said. “And the reason we said he’s hard-headed enough is he never really listened to the negativity that people said and would always cast doubt on him. So there’s no doubt in my mind that he can be a great quarterback in this league. And I’m glad, happy – extremely – to see him getting an opportunity.”
Jennings spoke to Gabbert in person after the Giants beat the 49ers, 30-27, in October.
“We shook hands and I said, ‘Hey, just stay patient. The opportunity is going to come,’” Jennings recalled. “And he said, ‘You know I’ll be ready.’ So I’m happy for him. I wish him nothing but success.”
Gabbert will reportedly start for the Niners (3-6) when they face the Seahawks (4-4) in Seattle on Nov. 22.