The San Francisco 49ers have a lot of questions to answer this season, and they added a big one this week after placing Jimmy Garoppolo on injured reserve. Quarterback C.J. Beathard takes over as the team’s starting QB, and that is going to result in some changes to the way the offense operates.
Beathard is starting because he is familiar with the offense and the hope is things won’t have too change much. However, regardless of how similar two quarterbacks might be, or how much they might operate in the same system, they will approach the offense different when it comes to targeting receivers. And as the tweet below shows, the biggest beneficiary of the switch to Beathard might be Matt Breida — and Alfred Morris to a lesser extent.
Here's how C.J. Beathard (224 attempts) and Jimmy Garoppolo (267) have distributed their targets over the last two years. Matt Breida may be peppered with targets: pic.twitter.com/mQdrabWqZJ— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) September 27, 2018
If you can’t see the table, Garoppolo targeted wide receivers 55.06 percent of the time over the past two seasons, tight ends 22.1 percent, and running backs 22.85 percent. In his run as starter, Beathard targeted wide receivers 46.43 percent of the time, tight ends 18.75 percent, and running backs 34.82 percent.
The sample size is small, but it is something to consider as we prepare for this drastic change at the most important position on the offense. Breida and Morris are both questionable for Sunday. Morris seems a safe bet to play, while Breida and Shanahan both acknowledged he is a game-time decision.
Morris could see some more targets in the passing game, but he is more for chewing up yards in the ground game. Breida was not a great pass catcher last season, and still has some work to do this year. But I would not be surprised to see him hit a career high in receptions (21 last year, 7 so far this year) by the end of the season.