The San Francisco 49ers surprised plenty of people with their decision to draft C.J. Beathard in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft, but former GM Scot McCloughan was not one of those people. McCloughan appears to be making the media rounds this week, and he had a great interview with Matt Barrows.
McCloughan told Barrows he has been a fan of Beathard since he started evaluating him last fall. McCloughan was the Washington GM before the team fired him amidst suggestions from within the organization that drinking was involved. The team reportedly used his draft board this year even after firing him. McCloughan’s drinking resulted in his departure from the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks previously. He is now operating his own scouting service, and already has some NFL clients.
McCloughan said Beathard reminded him of Matt Hasselbeck. He would not spend a first round pick on the QB, but he thinks a day two pick made sense. He said, “Not so high, whatsoever,” and offered this as part of his justification:
"That's where you take a shot, especially at that position, with a guy that you feel good about," he said. "The position alone is hard enough. But that guy -- he understands the game, he sees the game. You don't have to teach him to read defenses, you don't have to teach him to call a play in the huddle, you don't have to teach to get under center. He has it. He was really impressive."
McCloughan talked about the value of Iowa playing in a pro style offense. He said the Iowa coaching staff, “do[es] an excellent job of teaching players how to be players.” Beathard was a big fan of being able to play in the pro style system. He said the coaching staff put a lot of him as a quarterback, rather than simply having the sideline signals telling the offense everything they need to do.
Beathard joins the 49ers with the full knowledge that he will be inactive most if not all of his rookie season. Kyle Shanahan said after the draft that Brian Hoyer is starting and Matt Barkley will be his backup. Beathard will make the roster and spend the year developing his game.
The 49ers need to figure out their QB situation, but they are in no rush in 2017. Kyle Shanahan and his coaching staff have time to see what Beathard can do on the practice field, and then the team will go from there next spring. Beathard could make significant progress and the team still invests sizable assets in the position in free agency or the draft. But for the time being, the coaching staff can focus on developing Beathard.