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Kyle Shanahan still believes in C.J. Beathard despite benching

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The 49ers’ head coach reaffirms his faith in the second-year quarterback after his second benching in two season.

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Second-year quarterback C.J. Beathard has been demoted from starter to backup after an injury for the second consecutive season. Despite losing five-straight this season and 1-8 as a starer, coach Kyle Shanahan still hasn’t lost faith in the 49ers’ third-round pick.

“C.J.’s story is not over and that’s what I want him to know,” Shanahan said to the media Thursday. “You’ve got to realize that the whole world will say, ‘This is what you are,’ and I’m not mad at the world for that. People watch sports and that’s what they think. But, C.J.’s story is not over and he has the ability, he has the toughness, he has the mind, to be a very successful quarterback in this league.”

In 2017, Beathard suffered a knee injury late in the game against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 12, paving the way for Jimmy Garoppolo’s debut. The 49ers went on win five straight to close out the season with Garoppolo under center. Beathard didn’t see the starting lineup again until this season after Garoppolo’s Week 3 ACL tear against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Beathard may be enduring a similar fate this season after a hand injury forced Nick Mullens into the spotlight against the Oakland Raiders. The once practice squad quarterback orchestrated one of the most successful quarterback debuts in NFL history, completing 16 of 22 passes (72%) for 262 yards, three touchdowns, no turnovers and a quarterback rating of 151.9. Shanahan named Mullens the starter going into the team’s Week 10 matchup against the New York Giants on Monday Night Football.

Shanahan’s faith in Beathard stems from his time in Washington alongside now Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was signed in the offseason to a three-year, fully-guaranteed $84 million contract

Kirk Cousins in his first nine games, do you know what his record was? 1-8. He had 19 picks and 18 touchdowns,” Shanahan said “C.J. is 1-8. I think he has 13 picks. It doesn’t mean that he’s him, but I also know that a lot of people gave up on Kirk because of how he started and everyone wanted to put it on one guy when it was a lot more than just that.”

Beathard’s completed 57% of his passes for 12 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and a QB rating of 74.6 over his two years with the 49ers. Despite again being demoted, the former Iowa quarterback has been able to keep a positive mindset as he moves into an assistant role being Mullens.

“It’s tough,” Beathard said, via ESPN’s Nick Wagoner. “I mean, it feels like two years in a row kind of going through it. But it’s something that’s going to make me stronger in the end, I feel like. I think God’s testing me and I think it’s all going to make me stronger in the end, make me a better person, make me a better quarterback, a better player in the long run.”

“C.J.’s story is not over and he has the ability, he has the toughness, he has the mind, to be a very successful quarterback in this league,” Shanahan said. “Don’t let other people tell you it’s over because it hasn’t gone the way you wanted it.”