The San Francisco 49ers surprised us all with a decision to trade back into the third round to draft quarterback C.J. Beathard. After the deal was done, general manager John Lynch suggested it was unexpected to them as well. The 49ers GM met with the media after the Ahkello Witherspoon pick, with the belief that the team was done for the day. However, a call came in and they decided to make it happen.
Lynch and Shanahan discussed the trade and pick. Lynch focused his comments on the pick, while Shanahan explained his rationale for the pick. Shanahan said that he watched a lot of film of Beathard, but QB coach Rich Scangarello had the personal contact. Shanahan said Mitchell Trubisky was the only QB he worked out in person.
Here’s what both men had to say.
John Lynch’s opening comments:
“So, wasn’t lying to you. Went back in the room and we received a call from Minnesota with an opportunity to move up from 109 to 104 and we had a quarterback that we had grown to really appreciate and we felt like it was, might he have been there at 109? That’s what we had to weigh. But, at the end of the day we felt like it was worth it to go to bed knowing that we had a player that we like and want the opportunity to develop at the quarterback position. I’ll let [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] tell you more about C.J. Beathard the quarterback and what we grew to like.”
Kyle Shanahan’s opening comments:
“We’re really excited to get an opportunity to get C.J. You never know when a guy is going to go, especially quarterbacks. Went into this very open minded. Didn’t even know if we’d end up getting one today or tomorrow, but we had an idea that C.J. might go in the fourth round and for someone else to approach us and have us move up to the end of the third just for one of our seventh round picks that we’ve acquired. And, knowing we have nine tomorrow, it’s tough using all of those going into tomorrow. We didn’t want to hesitate. Go up and get a good player that we believe in. Didn’t think it cost a lot in the long run. So, I’m real happy to get C.J. here.”
Why do you believe in him? What have you seen from him that makes you feel like he’s a good fit for your system?
KS: “Well, one thing that helps is being able to see guys play the way you’re going to ask them to play. I think that helps with being at Iowa, having watched the system that he’s in. it’s easier to see. And, to watch him over the years, he’s a three-year starter. He’s led his team to a bunch of wins, especially in 2015 where they had a better team. I think he played unbelievable. They struggled a little bit more this year. I don’t think he had as good of players around him. But, he’s a leader, he’s tough, processes very well, extremely accurate and I think he lives and dies football.”
Did you have much contact with him?
“Not me personally. Our quarterback coach [Rich Scangarello] had done a lot. He had done most, he had had the most contact with the quarterbacks. The only one that I went and worked out actually was [Chicago Bears QB Mitchell] Trubisky. But, he’s someone I watched a lot of tape on and was excited that we had an opportunity to get him.”
Would you say that he and I guess maybe Pittsburgh QB Nathan Peterman played the most similar system to a pro-style system?
KS: “Yes. Yeah, I would say that.”
Where did Peterman end up ranking?
KS: “He’s right up there. We liked him also. There was a bunch of good guys in the draft. We leaned toward C.J. with all of us. We definitely felt the best about him. You never know when those guys are going to go. It just takes one to get him and when we got that opportunity just pretty randomly, about half an hour ago, excited us all. So, we didn’t hesitate.”
Do you see Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins type potential? I know you don’t want to comparisons, but a developmental project where in a couple years this guy could be in a position to be your quarterback?
KS: “Yeah, I think that’s exactly how you see it. Anytime you take someone you want to see the potential to develop someone. I think those skills that I mentioned, anytime you’ve got a guy that’s fearless, I think he’s extremely intelligent, football means the world to him, he really works at it, he’s accurate and he can process and play the game very fast in the pocket, I think that gives you a chance to play in this league. By no means does that mean that he’s ready to do that, but I think that’s a great guy that you have a chance with. I’m excited to get him here, just throw him into battle with all those other guys. I think he’s the type of guy who’s done a lot on his own. I think he lives and dies football. He comes from a football family. You can tell how he plays the game. Just even having other players in here that we’ve had on our 30 trips from Iowa and asking them about him. Just hearing his teammates talk about him. For him to be a captain-type guy and be the MVP of their offense, you can tell he’s been a very well respected guy in their program for a long time.”
It’s the sixth quarterback taken in this draft. I think that’s right.
KS: “I’m not sure.”
Is that consistent where you had him ranked as well in this quarterback class?
KS: “Yeah, that’s close. But, it’s more, you rank based where other people are going to take people and you see where you’re comfortable taking people. You don’t just go into it, ‘Hey, I want to get this ranked quarterback.’ It goes round for round. How many picks you have, how you think the draft is going to play out, what you have left. It’s a crap shoot. Especially in our situation. We did not go into this at all saying, ‘Hey, we have to get this player. We have to get this position.’ You go in pretty open minded. That’s why our goal was to get as many picks as possible. I think we’ve done a good job on that over these last two days and I think it’s allowed us to make some moves like we did just a little bit ago.”
His numbers declined a little bit. His interceptions were up. I know you mentioned in 2015 he played for a better team, but what do you attribute it to and were there things that you saw from him last year maybe without as good of a supporting cast that made you think he was the right guy for this team?
KS: “I just saw him battle through adversity. You look at the numbers that weren’t the same as the previous year, but numbers is something I very rarely look at. I think you guys would probably be a lot more on the numbers than actually I would be. I just turn on the tape and watch it. Just because there’s an incompletion, just because you don’t get the touchdown doesn’t always mean that it was the quarterback’s fault. You’ve got to watch to make sure people are getting open, how the rhythm of their offense is with protections and the receivers, are guys separating for him and what are they asking him to do and how good does he do that. You go through an entire game and does he do his job. And I think he does his job very well and I think he gives his team a very good chance to win. I think he showed that a lot more in 2015 when I think his team had a lot more opportunities to win.”
Was he brought in to push QB Brian Hoyer for the starting job in camp?
KS: “No. I don’t look at it at all like that. We’re bringing him in here to develop him, give him a chance. But, just like any other position, everyone competes. Brian’s our starting quarterback and right now, [QB] Matt Barkley’s our second and I look at him to come in and be our third with us only having three on the roster. But, every single day of practice, whether it’s an OTA, whether it’s workouts, whatever it is, people are always competing and we’ll always play the best guy, but by no means did we come into this draft thinking, ‘Hey, we’re going to get a guy to compete with Brian.’ We’re just trying to add people to our roster to improve the overall talent of our team.”
Would it be accurate to categorize him as one of your first project-type player?
KS: “I don’t know if I would use those words. I look at it as when you draft a guy and you feel, and we’re very confident with the guy we have right now, with going to get Brian. I’m very excited about having Matt Barkley. We’ve only worked with them two days with the voluntary mini-camp we had last week. But, when you go in and you have some guys that you’re excited with at the one and two spot and then you draft a guy who’s coming in penciled as the three. So, people call that a project, that means you’re going to work with someone, but I mean, it’s only a project for so long. There’s competition. You’ve got to earn a roster spot. There’s only 53 on our roster and you don’t always keep three quarterbacks. Obviously, we’ve got confidence in him. That’s why we took him. But, he’s got a lot of work to do and he’s got to earn his way here, just like everyone else.”
I understand when you talk about quarterback numbers. I didn’t grind tape on Beathard, but you mentioned his accuracy twice. His completion percentage is just OK. Are there extenuating circumstances? Did he throw a lot of downfield passes or why is it 59-percent completion percentage?
KS: “When I look at accuracy, do they throw where they’re trying to throw? You can call a bunch of bubbles and a bunch of quick screens and stuff and you can have someone be the most accurate completion percentage quarterback in the world. That doesn’t mean that they can throw the ball all the time where they want to go. I look at when a guy’s in tight coverage, what shoulder does he put it on? How consistently does he hit a guy in stride? When guys aren’t open, it’s sometimes hard to get completions. It depends on the type of offense you have. They’re a little more NFL based where they’re not doing a bunch of bubbles and things like that. They do run the ball a ton. They do a lot of play-action keepers off of it and it’s tough to get completions, though. They’re harder completions. There’s not as many gimmie ones and I think when you talk about completion percentage, you’ve always got to look into that.”
Just to clarify, Minnesota reached out to you with this phone call? They made the phone call to you?
JL: “They were looking to back out and offering an opportunity. One thing I would just add with Kyle is that when we entered this thing and started coming into this draft preparation, one of the things Kyle and I talked about is of course you have to understand how the rest of the league views certain players, but we really wanted to rely on our eyes and where we saw people. This was an instance where we saw a player that, as I said, we grew to like throughout the process. He had qualities that we thought would be great to work with. Everything has a cost and for what we saw a fitting opportunity, we made that move to get a guy that we thought, for that given opportunity, was a smart choice. And so, we did it. We also said that we weren’t going to play scared and when we saw something that we liked we were going to go for it. So, we did and we’re happy. It’s a great way to end the second day of what we think’s been a real fruitful draft for our organization.”
Does who his grandfather is, especially at that position, does that kind of give you some confidence that you’re picking a guy who grew up around the sport?
KS: “It just adds to it. Everything starts with what you see off tape. I really don’t know much and then I see it off tape and you grow to like someone and you come back and you watch it again. Then, usually it gets better or worse and then maybe you like it a little bit more and you start to get a feel for a guy. This guy’s pretty consistent. You never talked to him before. Man, he’s tough. He hangs in there. This guy competes. Even when he is off, he’s still fighting. Then you start to, ‘I bet his teammates like him. I bet his coaches like him. Let me call the school and see. Oh they do.’ Football means a lot to this guy. What’s his last name? Oh, it’s Beathard. Man, he’s been around it his whole life. That kind of makes sense. It starts to go in line with what you see on the tape. So, it’s all a guess, well not a guess but a prediction of who you think this person is. We do this with every position. But, you haven’t spent this time with him the last four years. So, you’re going off tape and then you add it to how are they at the combine? You look to test scores, you look to everything and you keep adding it up and what you see on tape and then you hear that his last name is Beathard and things like that, it does make sense. He plays the game like a kid who’s been around it his whole life and that does end up helping because it helps affirm what you saw.”
So, you guys didn’t meet with him at the combine?
KS: “I didn’t. Our quarterback coach does.”