SANTA CLARA – While other quarterbacks around college football were putting up astronomical statistics in their spread offenses, C.J. Beathard compiled relatively pedestrian numbers.
But that was all part of his plan. And it paid off last week when the 49ers traded up into the end of the third round to select the Iowa quarterback with the No. 104 overall draft pick.
“When I came out of high school, I wanted to play in a pro system because I knew that translated a lot better to the NFL,” said Beathard, who arrived in the Bay Area on Thursday and was issued No. 3 with the 49ers.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said he was drawn to Beathard, in part, because he saw him in college running an offense that is more adaptable to the NFL.
“One thing that helps is being able to see guys play the way you’re going to ask them to play,” Shanahan said. “I think that helps with being at Iowa, having watched the system that he’s in. it’s easier to see.”
Beathard said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and offensive coordinator Greg Davis placed a lot of trust in him to make checks at the line of scrimmage and read defense. He also took snaps under center and called plays in an actual huddle.
Beathard threw for 1,929 yards in his senior season, completing 170 of 301 pass attempts with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In comparison, first-round pick Patrick Mahomes completed 388 of 591 attempts for 5,052 yards with 41 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
“It is frustrating sometimes,” Beathard said. “Those guys are throwing for 300 yards a game. But all’s that matters to me is really winning games and over the course of my two years starting, we were 12-0 in the regular season my junior year, and 8-4 last year.
“Obviously, didn’t finish the way we wanted to, but overall we had a successful two years. I’d rather than win a game and throw for 150 yards than lose and throw for 300.”
The 49ers selected Beathard's teammate, Iowa tight end George Kittle, on Day 3 of the draft.
“He basically willed us to 20 wins in two years, so that’s pretty impressive,” Kittle said. “He put the team on his back multiple times in games we might not have been playing well. He’s a guy, when he steps on the field, he steps on the field to win. You look at stats, numbers, it doesn’t really matter because he’s a guy who’s going to get the job done.”
After selecting Beathard to join Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley on the 49ers’ depth chart, Shanahan cited Beathard’s accuracy. But Shanahan said he looked beyond the less-than impressive 56.5 completion percentage that Beathard compiled as a senior.
“When I look at accuracy, do they throw where they’re trying to throw? You can call a bunch of bubbles and a bunch of quick screens and stuff and you can have someone be the most accurate completion percentage quarterback in the world,” Shanahan said. “That doesn’t mean that they can throw the ball all the time where they want to go. I look at when a guy’s in tight coverage, what shoulder does he put it on? How consistently does he hit a guy in stride? When guys aren’t open, it’s sometimes hard to get completions. It depends on the type of offense you have.
“They’re a little more NFL based where they’re not doing a bunch of bubbles and things like that. They do run the ball a ton. They do a lot of play-action keepers off of it and it’s tough to get completions, though. They’re harder completions. There’s not as many gimme ones and I think when you talk about completion percentage, you’ve always got to look into that.”