The San Francisco 49ers kick off their organized team practice activities (OTAs) on May 21st. Those will run through June 7th, followed by mandatory minicamp June 12th through 14th. This is as important a period as any in the offseason. Players have been going through classroom work, and had individual work on the field. OTAs and minicamp are when teams really get to implement the playbook and get players ready for training camp.
This also means players can take a step forward in competitions for either a starting job or simply a chance to make the roster. We’re two weeks away from the start of OTAs, so I thought now is a good time to start a preview of each position heading into the on-field workouts. It’s a mix of
Today, we start with a relatively easy position, the quarterbacks.
Depth chart: Jimmy Garoppolo, C.J. Beathard, Nick Mullens, Jack Heneghan
And ... done.
OK, but seriously, we know Jimmy Garoppolo is going to be the starting quarterback. Nick Mullens will get opportunities in the offseason workout program and training camp, but I would be stunned if anybody but C.J. Beathard was Garoppolo’s backup when Week 1 arrives.
The 49ers locked up Garoppolo to a contract extension this offseason, settling that question with relative ease. I thought maybe we might see the team add a quarterback to compete with Beathard, but instead they simply signed UDFA Jack Heneghan.
What OTAs mean for the position
There is no position battle here, with Garoppolo and Beathard likely locked into their roles. However, the next month is huge for Garoppolo’s continued development. He joined the team at the trade deadline last year, and his five starts to close the season were effectively him being thrown in the deep end.
Kyle Shanahan has talked about the offseason workout program being a chance to effectively strip down Garoppolo’s quarterbacking skills and start from the basics. This isn’t a matter of changing mechanics are how he processes things or anything like that. Rather, it’s building all that back up in the context of Kyle Shanahan’s offense. If all goes well, Shanahan and Garoppolo will be tied at the hip for the foreseeable future, so such a specific process is necessary.
This is not to short-change Beathard as well. He does benefit this time around from being the clear backup. Last year, he started out as the third string quarterback behind Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. This year, he’s the clear No. 2, and he’s already had all offseason to start getting ready to take another step forward in his own game. Even though he has no chance of starting over a healthy Jimmy G, Beathard has plenty to gain from OTAs and minicamp.