Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu called it early on, identifying the problems Colin Kaepernick was having in the 49ers passing game after his two-pick game.
But he doubled down Wednesday, saying the 49ers are in better hands with Blaine Gabbert on the field.
“That’s 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, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “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.
“I think he gives them a better option going forward. It seems like the wide receivers are more involved. So it looks like they’re doing all right.”
While it seems strong considering it’s Blaine Gabbert, Real American we’re talking about, Mathieu touched on some valid points.
Gabbert has completed 62.7 percent of his passes in two games, has only thrown two interceptions, and put up a passer rating of 88.9. Kaepernick completed 59.0 percent of his passes, and was carrying a 78.5 rating when he was benched.
Kaepernick was clearly struggling this year, and Mathieu said it doesn’t appear it will be as easy to bait Gabbert into making bad throws.
“No, I don’t think so,” Mathieu said. “[It] seems like he takes care of the football way better. 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. . . .
“You don’t pick up those same things with Gabbert. He’s better in the pocket. He has a better feel for coverages. It seems like he can get to the line and 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 the different things he does well that Kaepernick doesn’t do well.”
While Gabbert has done some good things, it’s probably too soon to put too fine a point on what his better-than-Kaepernick play means on the whole.
But the fact that an opponent is so open about the difference speaks to how far Kaepernick has fallen, and how fast.