San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has named C.J. Beathard the starting quarterback moving forward, and odds are pretty good Beathard will be the guy for the remaining ten games of the season. He is bound to struggle at times, but the remaining schedule provides a variety of defenses to test him out against.
Shanahan said he made the change because he felt the offense needed a spark, and Beathard had put together good practices the past couple weeks. Shanahan offered some insight into what Beathard did in practice to justify a shot at the starting job.
“Just to watch how he does with his reps. Even the scout team reps, they get it on a card, but very rarely do they see the card and we can't put it in our own terminology and we have that play somewhere in our playbook. Just to watch him run a card, visualize how we're going it, to see where he goes with the ball, not only how he's throwing but how he goes through his progressions and handles the defensive coverage and things like that. As you do with all rookies, you hope the more reps they get, the better they get and I feel like he's been showing that through these weeks in practice.”
He also detailed what Beathard has done overall since they drafted him in April to get in this position.
“Just soaking it all in. He's a guy who did run, he's one of the few quarterbacks who didn't run a spread offense in college. He had some understanding from playing under center, making huddle calls, having to make some adjustments at the line and not just always going fast, the fast-break type of stuff that you see in these spread offenses. He has some familiarity with that stuff. But, now to get him in and we do a lot more than he did do, so just to get him reps with all of our keepers, with the play-actions, with the different type of drop backs, playing under center, in gun. He is a gym rat. He doesn't do it to impress you. He does it because he enjoys it. He's pretty passionate about football. It's very important to him. I think it's similar with a lot of people. He's grown up around football his whole life. He's had a lot of family members in it. And that doesn't mean that everyone is like that, but you can tell he's a guy who has been around football forever and it's extremely important to him and you can tell he carries his, the way he carries himself, that's important to him in every aspect of his life.”
After a half and change of football, Shanahan said he was, “excited with how [Beathard] played.” He acknowledged Beathard was not perfect and missed on some things, but, “I thought he came in there, didn't hesitate, competed, the moment was not too big for him. Made a few plays in rhythm. Made a few off-schedule plays and that was a big reason we got back in that game.”
The next ten weeks will be interesting, to say the least. We saw the Cleveland Browns claim a commitment to their rookie quarterback, and then proceed to bench him when things got tough. Kyle Shanahan said he thinks C.J. Beathard gives the 49ers the best chance to win. It will be interesting to see if potential Beathard struggles in the coming weeks change that at all.
In the meantime, there will be plenty for Beathard to work on. A lot of it is just getting used to playing at the NFL level. Shanahan thinks he has the ability to play in the NFL, now it’s a matter of getting used to NFL game speed.
“We'll see that as he plays. He's got the ability. He's got the toughness. Each game will be different. You know, when you talk about where a guy has got to improve, you don't say they need to learn how to throw it better or they need to learn how to get bigger or faster. That's usually the stuff that you have by the time you get to this level. It's about playing in the game and reacting to defenses, reacting to coverages, reacting to adjustments. He's going to see a lot of things he hasn't seen before and that will change each week. That’ll probably change each quarter. It's really how does a guy handle that stuff. I've seen a lot of guys come in and struggle early and learn from it and end up becoming pretty good. I've seen guys come in and play very well right away, and things change and they don't adjust that well. So, you're never going to get a quick answer. You see over time. But, he's got the ability to do it. I think he's got the mental toughness to do it. I think he will get better the more he plays.”