Everyone and their mother knew the San Francisco 49ers were not going to be looking for a quarterback early in the 2018 NFL Draft. This is obvious due to the fact they have Jimmy Garoppolo as the starter. There was little need to look deeper in the draft due to the play of backup C.J. Beathard unless they were looking for some competition. The 49ers ended up not drafting a single quarterback. They made some additions via undrafted free agency, but it seems like quarterback hasn’t been a priority. If Beathard keeps up his play it won’t be a priority for a while.
After a preseason that showed promise as a rookie, Beathard was thrown to the wolves shortly after the regular season began, coming in for an inefficient Brian Hoyer in Week Six of 2017. It was quickly apparent that while Beathard had some nice plays, he was not the quarterback of the future, at least for the 49ers in that specific moment. The trade of Jimmy Garoppolo on October 31st, 2017 confirmed just as much and Beathard’s days as the starter were numbered. An injury in the final minutes of a Week 12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks put him on the bench and the 49ers kept him there in favor of Garoppolo.
For some this could be damning, for Beathard, this was probably one of the best situations he could ask for. As a rookie, Beathard got some quality starter experience that he can only build on and use to help out in the quarterback room. There are some quarterbacks who come in where the less said the better and then there’s Beathard who shows he could be a quality backup or even a starter elsewhere in the league, he just needs to uncover more of his game.
Experience: One accrued season
Weight: 219 lbs
He is in the second year of his four-year rookie deal. His base salary is $625,393 along with his prorated signing bonus of $176,572 equals a cap hit of $801,965
Why he might improve in 2018
Beathard had to not only learn the NFL system, but Kyle Shanahan’s system—one of the most difficult if not the most difficult to learn in the league. Doing this as a rookie when veterans like Matt Ryan have had issues is no easy task, however he beat Brian Hoyer out of a job, someone who has experience with Shanahan’s offense. Now, beating Brian Hoyer may not be so difficult when you think about it, but that was the man picked to lead the offense for the 49ers, so it must mean something.
That said, his knowledge of the offense only will make him better and he can now work on improving the rest of his game. Beathard will need to be more decisive in his throws and get some more mustard on them when he has his release. Several sacks were on him simply holding onto the ball far too long. All of those things come with experience. Now that he has a season of the offense under his belt a lot of that indecisiveness can be worked on. Hopefully with this his accuracy improves as well, as he threw some wildly inaccurate balls during his time as a starter. If he can get all those little things from his rookie season figured out, Beathard can be a solid back-up.
Why he might regress in 2018
Beathard’s accuracy issues are not something quarterbacks tend to get better at. Accuracy is very, very difficult to improve. He also took an absolute beating last year with his indecisiveness and the 49ers offensive line breaking down at a simple gust of wind. That type of punishment can stunt an young quarterback’s growth and make them get those happy feet far too much. While Beathard is one of those people who embrace the hits a quarterback takes in the NFL, one has to wonder how many his body can take before his performance suffers permanently.
Odds of making the roster
Beathard is a lock to make the roster as Jimmy Garoppolo’s backup. Both now have experience in Kyle Shanahan’s system and that 49ers quarterback room could be one of the best in the league because of it. If Jimmy Garoppolo goes down for a game, it will be setback, but one that isn’t a total disaster as we—and the 49ers by extension—know that Beathard can step in and at least hold down the fort. That’s exactly what you want out of a backup quarterback.