Those of you unfortunate enough to catch the San Francisco 49ers entire preseason game Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys were probably able to get a good glimpse of C.J. Beathard throwing tipped ducks and interceptions. Obviously Nick Mullens came in later and saved the day with his game-winning touchdown pass, but the damage was done: now I’m seeing some of you call for C.J. Beathard’s benching.
Beathard had a bad game, but guess what? So did everyone not named Richie James. Jimmy Garoppolo looked ordinary (put your stones down, you know he wasn’t at his best), Jerick McKinnon couldn’t run at all, and yes, even my hero Nick Mullens had a pick.
We’ve seen Beathard play—it’s not the most inspiring, but he at least could hold his own against first string defenders. Mullens lit the night up against threes and fours. Should the 49ers try Mullens early? Sure, I guess, might not be a bad idea, but don’t expect the level of production that you had when he lit up Cowboys defenders towards the end of the game. Until we see more of this, Mullens’ performance is less on him and more on the depth of the Cowboys. Don’t forget he had Kendrick Bourne and Richie James to help him agains those third stringers. At this point, if Garoppolo goes down, it’s already a knock-out punch. Do you want the guy on the practice squad or the guy who has actually seen in-game action in Kyle Shanahan’s system?
I’ll take the latter. Plus, there’s a cerebral side to it as well. We have no idea if Mullens can gameplan or read a defense and we’ll be left speculating. Remember how that worked out last time?
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, Beathard’s play is concerning, but it’s also Week 1 of the preseason, and he had a few days off due to seeing Grandpa Beathard (Bobby) get into the Hall of Fame. He’s been decent during training camp and has a year of Kyle Shanahan’s playbook and system under him—and unlike Mullens, has executed that same system on gameday.
Give it another game, or two. If Beathard continues throwing tipped interceptions like he did Thursday, then you can start calling for Nick Mullens to take over.
Until then, it’s preseason.