When the 2018 season rolled around, two things were certain on the quarterback position: Jimmy Garoppolo would be starting while C.J. Beathard would serve as his backup. Only one of those statements will be true in 2019. Garoppolo will return from his ACL injury while his backup will be a competition between Beathard and previous third-stringer Nick Mullens.
Kyle Shanahan was asked about how the quarterback position would shape out in his press conference on Friday and went into detail of what to expect if the season ended right now:
“If the season ended now, they’d both be going into the offseason competing. Definitely [QB] C.J. [Beathard] was our two and Nick was our three and Nick came in and got his opportunity because C.J. was hurt and he’s done good enough to keep that in all four of the games he’s played. We’ll see how that goes for these next four, but it was nothing against C.J. Nick came in and played well and there hasn’t been a reason to put C.J. back in yet, based off of Nick. So, they’re dead even to me. I know C.J. really wants another opportunity before this year ends. I can’t guarantee that for him. We’ll see how these games play out. But, I see them having a pretty good competition going into next year.”
I wrote that Beathard would possibly be moved in the offseason. Not because he’s a bad quarterback, but because the 49ers have benched him twice in just as many years for someone else—something very dangerous even with a backup quarterback since it signals a lack of confidence from the coaching staff. With a starter, the moment you pull them, it’s very hard to go back to them or expect them to play with the same mindset. Look at Brock Osweiler or Blake Bortles for proof. Osweiler abandoned the Denver Broncos and went to the Texans in free agency (and turned out to be one of the worst signings in history) while Bortles’ aftermath is still being wrtten. Yes, Mullens came in when Beathard was injured and that’s how he got the gig, but again, that’s twice now Beathard has been pulled from being the starter and I can’t think he’s enjoying it a whole lot.
All things considered, the backup quarterback position will be something to watch in the 2019 training camps. As said above, the No. 2 position was thought to be all Beathard’s and Mullens was an afterthought. In 2019, Beathard isn’t just playing for the backup spot, but also his job with the 49ers.