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Tyrann Mathieu: 49ers passing game better with Blaine Gabbert than with Colin Kaepernick

The Cardinals safety compares the two quarterbacks in a conference call with the media.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

When the Arizona Cardinals played the San Francisco 49ers early in the season, it was a slaughter. The defense seemed to know exactly what Colin Kaepernick was gong to do and where he was going to make throws. They intercepted him four times in the 47-7 win.

Now the Cardinals will face a 49ers team with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback instead of Kaepernick, as the latter saw his season end when he was placed on injured reserve.

Safety Tyrann Mathieu, speaking to the San Francisco media on a conference call, was asked to talk about the differences between what he sees in the 49ers now and before and he said he believes Gabbert "gives (the 49ers) a better option moving forward."

"Not to take anything away from Kaepernick, but it seems like Gabbert, he has a little bit better grip on what's going on," Mathieu said. "If he gets in a situation, he knows where the ball needs to go. He's a hell of a passer. I think he's underrated when you talk about how well he can throw the football."

Mathieu also noted his ability to scramble and make plays with his legs.

Mathieu believes he and the Cardinals defense will not be able to bait Gabbert into some throws they were able to get Kaepernick to make.

"Seems like he takes care of the football, like I said, way better," he explained. "If he gets into a situation where he feels pressure, he's not just going to give the defense an opportunity to make a play."

Basically, Mathieu is saying Gabbert is a smarter player and the Cardinals will have a greater challenge on defense because of him.

"We just knew Kaepernick's tendencies," he said, explaining whether the Cardinals simply had Kaeperinick's number. "We knew what he liked to do. We knew which way he wanted to roll out. We knew what side of the field he liked to read to. And you don't pick up those same things from Gabbert. Like I said, he's better in the pocket. He has a better feel for coverages. It seems like he can get to the line, see a coverage, and then go to a different play. Or see a coverage and not throw the ball. You can see Gabbert's maturity, and obviously, the different things that he does well that, let's say, Kaepernick doesn't do well."

Interesting. When the news broke that Gabbert would be the starter for the Niners, most Cardinals fans laughed because we all have seen how bad Gabbert has been before.

Could he have figured it out? Is Gabbert a better option for San Francisco moving forward?