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Mathieu: Gabbert a 'better option' than Kaepernick

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Cardinals cornerback Tyrann Mathieu has dissected the tape, and he agrees with the 49ers' decision to bench Colin Kaepernick before Kaepernick's season-ending surgery. In Mathieu's mind, Blaine Gabbert is simply a better player.

"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. 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 told reporters Wednesday via CSNBayArea.com.

Mathieu, one of the savviest defensive backs in the league, says Gabbert gives the 49ers a "better option" than Kaepernick. Mathieu cited Gabbert's ability to take care of the football; the Cardinals picked off Kaepernick four times in Week 3.

"We just knew Kaepernick's tendencies," Mathieu said. "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.

"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."

The quotes above would have been hard to imagine in 2013 when Kaepernick was a star coming off a Super Bowl appearance, and Gabbert was wrapping up a disastrous run with the Jaguars.

Now the quotes don't come as a huge surprise based on Kaepernick's play this season, and Gabbert's solid work replacing him. Gabbert, after all, is the one that's more likely to be a starting quarterback in the NFC West next year.

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