With the focus on winning a Saturday Night Football showdown against the Rams, head coach Kyle Shanahan woke up at 3 AM to a call from 49ers’ backup quarterback C.J. Beathard.
The news from Beathard pushed the thought of the upcoming game to the back of Shanahan’s mind. Clayton Beathard, brother of 49ers’ backup quarterback, was brutally stabbed to death in the early hours of Saturday morning in Nashville, TN.
Shanahan opened post-game with a message for Beathard’s family, pausing before taking questions from the media.
Before we start, I just want to say how much we appreciate the Beathard family. What happened last night was very tough on [QB] C.J. [Beathard] and his family. It was a tragedy. Such a great family. We’ve been with C.J. here for three years. He’s as good as any person I’ve been around. Their family is unbelievable.
After the 49ers’ head coach spent an hour with Beathard, the last words from the former Iowa quarterback was to “get the win tonight.”
All season long, the 49ers’ locker room praised the fact that they felt like a family and truly played for each other, rather than taking the field together just because they are employed by the same franchise.
49ers’ corner Richard Sherman came up to the podium and echoed the same sentiment that Shanahan expressed, adding “football is a game and it’s a game that kids play. What C.J. [Beathard] lost is irreplaceable. It’s family. This is trivial...it really puts things into perspective.”
Beathard’s locker mate, linebacker Fred Warner stepped up in the biggest way possible. With the 49ers down, Warner picked off a Goff pass attempt and returned it for a touchdown, capping off his first career interception. After the game, the former BYU linebacker added that it was his first pick-six since his junior year of college.
Warner added “I have a super heavy heart for him right now. I couldn’t imagine being in that situation. We wanted to play this game for C.J. [Beathard] and my heart goes out to him.”
49ers’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo followed Warner at the podium and didn’t hold back either, “I shot him [Beathard] a text. I’m sure he’s going through a ton of stuff, I can’t even imagine. I think everyone in the locker room feels the same way for him. I can’t even comprehend the situation. Everyone’s got his back. We love him.”
Garoppolo was not having the best first half, looking skittish and lackluster due to an inexperienced 49ers’ interior offensive line and a dominant Rams’ front. That did not stop the 49ers’ franchise quarterback who delivered with a game-winning drive — his fourth of the season — to enable San Francisco to stay in the race for the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
Tight end George Kittle walked into to the media auditorium last and his normal, joyful vibrancy was missing, as he stepped up the podium.
“Mentally, I’d say the toughest game of my career. Today, was absolutely terrible for me the entire day. It sucked all around. Overall, it was kind of just a brutal day. We got that one for C.J. [Beathard] and I’m so happy we could do it.”
The former Iowa tight end goes way back with the Beathard family, knowing them for the past eight years, so it was certainly hard to watch as Kittle was fighting back tears at the podium. Despite playing with a heavy heart, the 49ers’ tight end delivered with five catches, 79 yards and one touchdown. Kittle remains 33 yards away from tallying another 1,000-yard receiving season.
San Francisco has played with heavy hearts twice recently, once against the Saints on the anniversary of the passing of Tony York and now on the day after the passing of Clayton Beathard. This 49ers’ team won both games off the right foot of kicker Robbie Gould, as they were able to come closer together after the game.