The days when the San Francisco 49ers could switch quarterbacks at midseason and still reach the Super Bowl feel increasingly distant with each Blaine Gabbert misfire during the 2014 preseason. Gabbert averaged 2.4 yards per attempt on 25 passes through two preseason games, making the stat line for fellow backup Josh Johnson appear dynamic by comparison.
Gabbert's struggles, compounded by dropped passes, provide an opportunity to size up where the 49ers fit among other contending teams in perceived ability to win without their starter. Conversations with two NFL general managers, one coordinator and a position coach produced a range of opinions. I've drawn from those conversations in putting together a 1-10 ranking for the teams Las Vegas has assigned the best odds for winning the Super Bowl this season.
1. Seattle Seahawks (6-1 Super Bowl odds)
Starter: Russell Wilson
Teams can win while minimizing the QB position if they play great defense and/or run the ball effectively. The Seahawks can do both as well as any team. Jackson grew up in the offensive system while playing under current Seattle coordinator Darrell Bevell in Minnesota. He went 7-7 as the Seahawks' starter in 2011, when the team had less of a supporting cast.
"Seattle has a great supporting cast with playmakers on both sides of the ball," one GM said.