The San Francisco 49ers drafted quarterback C.J. Beathard as a developmental prospect, and he was quickly labeled a career backup. It wasn’t so much confirmed by what Kyle Shanahan said after the draft, but what Shanahan didn’t say. When you draft a backup, the last thing you want is for them to get thrown into the game.
And that’s exactly what happened. With Brian Hoyer’s mediocre play, Beathard was thrown into the starting role. It seems just as quick as Beathard started and struggled, his days were numbered when the Jimmy Garoppolo trade happened only weeks later. Now Garoppolo is starting and Beathard is on the bench.
For a quarterback of the future, having them sit and learn behind a veteran isn’t a bad thing. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers both did it. Steve Young also kind of did it (in San Francisco, in Tampa Bay he was thrown in). But Beathard isn’t the quarterback of the future. If he wound up that way, it would be nice, but he wasn’t drafted for that reason.
Given the season, I’d say everything that happened was a positive. The last thing anyone wants is to see the starting quarterback go down and the backup to come in. How many Green Bay Packer fans held their breath when Brett Hundley trotted into the huddle after Aaron Rodgers had his injury? No one had seen him before.
So Beathard, their developmental quarterback got a nice chunk of game day experience and didn’t look terrible (yes, this is arguable). Check that box. Even I argued that he shouldn’t start, looking back at the situation, it’s probably good that he did. Why? We know he isn’t Nathan Peterman.
In a developmental season, that gameday experience is invaluable. If Beathard is the backup that John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan drafted him for, that alone is just what he needed. Now, he can take that to the quarterback room and work with Jimmy Garoppolo on the playbook and eventually contribute. He knows whats expected of the starter in practice and in games. In a year, that 49ers quarterback room could be one of the better ones in the NFL; two young quarterbacks who have both played in games, and in-sync with Shanahan’s offense.
Maybe the NFL game was a bit overwhelming for him as a rookie, or fast but now he knows what it’s like on the field for a game, which makes him even more valuable as a backup. Sitting on the sidelines is only going to work for so long, Beathard learned a lot getting pulled into a game. He very well could be back in games for the 49ers again if disaster strikes. If the season is much more competitive, he definitely has something to build on in his first season at San Francisco.