There’s plenty of blame to go around in the San Francisco 49ers’ loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Most of which can get passed around in the defensive meetings (READ: Tackling). One person that shouldn’t shoulder any of this blame is C.J. Beathard.
Until the last drive of the first half, C.J. Beathard hovered around a 70 percent completion percentage. He finished his day with a 298 yards, a 62.2 completion rate with two touchdowns to two interceptions and a gazillion hits/pressures. Beathard, for all intents and purposes didn’t look bad. At all.
Now, he’s no Jimmy Garoppolo, but there’s not much more Beathard could do on Sunday. One of his interceptions was a egregious drop by Garrett Celek. If caught, it could have been a touchdown depending on how much drive Celek could mount on the ensuing hit. The other was a hit as he threw the ball in the face of a nasty blitz that wound up in a defensive lineman’s hands. If you want to argue the second one, go ahead, but both of those were not ill-advised throws. In fact, beyond those two, the passes Beathard threw were in windows and in places only his receivers could get them.
Well, that is if they could catch it.
One pass sailed over a defender in triple coverage into the hands of George Kittle, but the tight end couldn’t haul it in (Kittle more than made up for this blunder through the day). Another pass bounced off the hands of Pierre Garçon just as he got hit.
Beathard did a solid job evading pressure, and sacks we would have seen in 2017 didn’t happen. But oh man, did he still take a beating. 8 hits in the pocket, one sack. And we’re not even talking about plays nullified by penalties and hits taken on his scrambling adventures.
The 49ers offensive line was decimated by injuries early, with left tackle Joe Staley going to the locker room from a knee injury, center Weston Richburg suffering an early injury he gutted through, and even rookie right tackle Mike McGlinchey getting off the field. No line is going to hold up with that kind of injury turnover, and no quarterback not named Russell Wilson is staying upright. As one might expect, the line was porous with Beathard getting the ball out quickly and getting pancaked once it was out of his hands. Many times this led to roughing the passer penalties on the Chargers, but those hits can slow down a quarterback, and one hit in the 4th quarter almost meant the end of Beathard’s day.
While Beathard was getting clocked, and receivers weren’t catching the ball, Chargers running back Melvin Gordon shrugged off not one, not two, but three defenders for first downs (yes, this did in fact happen). He wasn’t the only one. There were some missed holding penalties for the Chargers offense to get going, but the 49ers defense continued to let the Chargers back into this game. Beathard managed to put up 20 points (not counting the seven spotted with the pick-six). What more do you need from him? And let’s not forget that brilliant 21-play, 72-yard drive. It ended in a field goal, but it didn’t end in an interception, did it?
Sure, there were a few batted passes (the 4th quarter drives come to mind) but Beathard showed much improvement for his first start in 2018. Beyond improvement, Beathard’s own play didn’t cost the 49ers the game. The 49ers lost this game due to their injuries, offensive line issues, and defense—or lack thereof.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for this—C.J. Beathard doesn’t deserve any of it.