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After his brother’s passing, win over Cardinals was extra special for C.J. Beathard

The 2017 third-round pick won his first start in more than two years.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It has been just over a year since San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback C.J. Beathard’s brother, Clayton, was stabbed to death following an altercation outside a Nashville bar on Dec. 21, 2019.

Following his brother’s death, the 2017 third-round pick took some time away from the team last season to be with his family.

With Nick Mullens out for the final two game, Beathard made his first start in more than two years and led the Niners to a 20-12 win over their NFC West rivals, the Arizona Cardinals.

Beathard wasn’t spectacular, but he didn’t have to be. The fourth-year QB finished the game 13-of-22 for 183 yards and three touchdowns, helping the 49ers end their three-game losing streak.

“It means more than I can really put into words,” Beathard said following the win. “Everything that I’ve been through the last year and it being the one-year anniversary since my brother’s passing, you can’t really put into words. I couldn’t hand-pick this to go the way it did.”

After making it to the Super Bowl in 2019, this has been a season full of downs for San Francisco. The team lost several of its top players to injuries and looked like a shell of the squad that dominated the NFC last year.

Even though they were eliminated from playoff contention following last week’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the players gave everything they had against the Cardinals. Head coach Kyle Shanahan picked up on the energy at practice leading up to the game and how the players were rallying around Beathard.

“I think C.J. [Beathard] played awesome,” Shanahan said. “He made some plays in the pass-game, made some plays on the zone reads ... all his decision-making was perfect on it. Just his leadership, just the way the guys gravitated towards him, you can feel it at practice. I think you can tell how hard they played for him too.”

The game against Arizona was Bethard’s 11th career start. He came into Saturday’s matchup with a 1-9 record and has been the third-string quarterback for the last two-plus years behind Jimmy Garoppolo and Mullens.

Despite getting little reps with the first-team offense, his teammates appreciate what Beathard brings to the table.

Running back Jeff Wilson Jr. was a force against the Cardinals with 204 total yards and a touchdown. Still, Wilson was focused on what the win meant for Beathard.

“Everybody loves C.J., the whole team,” Wilson said. “To stay upbeat, to stay positive, to keep encouraging people when you’re not playing or getting what you deserve. To stay upbeat, that’s tremendous. That’s why everyone loves him and don’t mind breaking their neck for him.”

Beathard’s first start of the 2020 season also came when his former college teammate at Iowa made his return tot he lineup. Tight end George Kittle suited up for the first time since the Week 8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks and finished with four receptions for 92 yards.

Beathard was asked what the win meant to him following the game and instead focused on how much his teammates motivated him. The quarterback was thankful for how much Kittle inspired him throughout the week.

“We are out of the playoffs, but George [Kittle] he didn’t necessarily have to come back,” Beathard said. “He wanted to come back and all week, he kept saying to me, ‘I can’t wait to be out there with you.’ We have been together for nine years, so it was pretty cool.”

Beathard is due to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. No one knows if he will be back, but even if he isn’t, he will remember this victory for a long time.

Do you think the 49ers will re-sign Beathard in the offseason?