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Why C.J. Beathard wanted to play in a pro-style college offense

The quarterback thanks his college coaches for helping his viability in the NFL

The San Francisco 49ers moved up to select quarterback C.J. Beathard in the third round, surprising a lot of people. Why was he so attractive to head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch? Shanahan has expressed that he admires the quarterback’s toughness but it’s also likely because Beathard played under center in a pro-style offense as Iowa’s signal caller. Beathard spoke last week about the benefits:

I think it really benefited me coming from a prostyle offense. Coach Ferentz and coach Davis, our offensive coordinator, really put a lot on me as a quarterback at the line of scrimmage, getting out of certain run [plays] depending on what the defense gave us, how to read coverages, and all that kind of stuff. Being under center, actually calling a play in a huddle, which nowadays, there are so many colleges [where] they just don’t have to do that. I thank Coach Davis and Coach Ferentz for doing that and that was one of the things, I came out of high school I wanted to play in a pro system because I knew that that translated a lot better to the NFL.

Prior to the draft, both Shanahan and Lynch spoke in depth about how the spread offense slows down the development of offensive players, especially quarterbacks. Seeing the play call on boards from the sidelines or communicated through hand signals doesn’t allow the quarterback to think for himself or read defenses. Lynch went as far as to say that you really have to project what they might be able to do, as opposed to seeing it.

Legendary 49ers quarterback Joe Montana was shocked by this phenomenon when his sons were playing in college, not understanding why they didn’t know how to read a defense. Some have suggested it could also be one of the main reasons former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick still remains a free agent.

Iowa’s pro style offense also prepared Beathard to watch and break down film with Shanahan, which may have been one of the many reasons his new head coach admired the Hawkeye quarterback. One thing Shanahan wanted to see from potential quarterbacks was the ability to do the same things he will be asking of them as a player. Beathard describes what happened at his pro day:

We went up to the meeting room and watched some film of Atlanta and he gave a few formations, some of their base stuff, their base plays, and kind of talked me through, kind of installed two plays for me and kind of had me speak it back to him, tell it to him. “What’s your read here, what would you do here with the ball,” and just kind of see how I thought and processed that.

This will only make his transition to the NFL more seamless. After only a few days with the playbook, Beathard says it’s all making sense.

I know how to break down offenses and look at offenses. Obviously the terminology is totally different but it does make sense.

Obviously, playing in a pro style offense has had it’s long term benefits for Beathard but that’s not to say it wasn’t frustrating seeing quarterbacks in a spread offense throw for 300 yards a game. Winning obviously matters more than his own stats to which he stated:

I’d rather win a game and throw for 150 yards than lose and throw for 300.