Tyrann Mathieu knows Colin Kaepernick’s playing style pretty well — the Arizona Cardinals intercepted two of Kaepernick’s passes in the last meeting between the two, one was a pick six in the 47-7 Week 3 blowout. During a conference call Wednesday, Mathieu shared a jubilant opinion of the quarterback change — Blaine Gabbert is preparing to make his third straight start since Kaepernick was benched.
“Not to take anything away from Kaepernick, but it seems like Gabbert has a little bit better grip on what’s going on,” Mathieu said on the conference call. “If he gets in a situation, he knows where the ball needs to go.”
Mathieu continued by saying Gabbert impressed him in his losing effort against the Seattle Seahawks last week, but still believes the 26-year-old quarterback gives San Francisco more options in the future.
“He’s a hell of a passer. I think he’s underrated when you talk about how well he can throw the football. And, obviously he had some 40 yards last week against the Seahawks running the ball. So I think he gives them a better option going forward. It seems like the wide receivers are more involved. So it seems like they’re doing all right.”
After the 47-7 blowout in Glendale, Mathieu, always outspoken, took to PFT Live to describe what he saw in San Francisco’s offense. “It was real easy for us to anticipate routes and get the breaks on the ball last Sunday.” Arizona’s defense had four interceptions total in the game.
Mathieu doesn’t think it will be as simple on Sunday with Gabbert under center. Specifically, Mathieu said he appreciates how Gabbert might be less reckless with the football than Kaepernick.
“It seems like he takes care of the football way better. If he gets in a situation where he feels pressure, he’s not just going to give the defense an opportunity to make a play. They run a lot of boots. A lot of different things with him to get him on the edge. Like I said, it seems like he can run the football pretty well from the times I’ve seen him run it. He has a pretty nice arm as well,” Mathieu said.
Mathieu said the Cardinals defense has become privy to Kaepernick’s tendencies, citing that he believed Kaepernick consistently uses just one area of the field — not something he see’s from Gabbert. “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.”
This season, Gabbert has started two games, versus the eight which Kaepernick had started until he was placed on season-ending injury reserve last week for a torn labrum. In those two starts, Gabbert has thrown three touchdowns, two interceptions and has authored a 88.9 passer rating; Kaepernick has thrown six touchdowns, five interceptions and possesses a 78.5 rating.