KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Rookie C.J. Beathard was not a quarterback who gained a lot of exposure before this year’s draft.
But 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan saw something he liked.
Shanahan was impressed with Beathard’s toughness and his willingness to stand in the pocket to deliver passes just a split-second before he knew he would absorb a hit.
That trait was on display in the 49ers’ 27-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
Beathard is battling veteran Matt Barkley for the 49ers’ backup job behind starter Brian Hoyer. Both players performed well in the exhibition debut.
Barkley completed 10 of 17 passes for 168 yards. Beathard completed seven of 11 attempts for 101 yards with two touchdowns. Neither player threw an interception.
In the fourth quarter with the 49ers trailing by eight points, Beathard stepped up to avoid pressure from the left side. He bought a little time as receiver Kendrick Bourne ran a different route than expected. Then, Beathard managed to get the ball 25 yards down the field just as 300-pound defensive tackle Ricky Ali’ifua was zeroing in on him.
Shanahan liked what he saw from Beathard to keep his concentration downfield.
“That’s really all I watched on that play,” Shanahan said. “We went to Bourne on a couple routes in a row. We knew the corner (Trevon Hartfield) was squatting on him.
“We thought we could get by him. But we were very nervous if we could hold up that long. All I watched was C.J. I thought they got an edge in our protection. He did a good job of moving around to create just enough time to get it off.”
The play resulted in a 46-yard touchdown pass. Beathard and Bourne teamed up on the next play on a fade route for the two-point conversion to tie the score at 17-17.
The touchdown nearly did not happen because Bourne was supposed to run his route to the outside. However, he got cut off and improvised with an inside line.
“Oh, yeah, I almost came off him because he went inside,” Beathard said. “But I stepped up and I saw the corner kind of fall. So I was like, ‘I hope he turns around,’ because I just threw it, hoping he’d turn around.”
Beathard said he maintained his focus on getting the ball downfield and only had a vague awareness that he would have to take a big hit in order to let the play develop.
“It’s like peripheral stuff,” Beathard said. “You can feel it around you when the pocket is closing in around you and you have to move a little bit. It’s something that all quarterbacks have to deal with and figure out as they get older.”