Beathard's condition suggests Garoppolo is 49ers' healthy favorite to start vs. Bears


Beathard's condition suggests Garoppolo is 49ers' healthy favorite to start vs. Bears

Jimmy Garoppolo spent the first 3 ½ seasons watching the measures a quarterback must take to protect himself.

Tom Brady is not the most nimble quarterback in the league, but nobody is better at buying time in the pocket with a step here or a step there to create enough space to deliver the ball down the field.

Most of the time, the ball comes out of Brady’s hand quickly -- before the pass rush arrives.

For the past three games while standing on the 49ers sideline, Garoppolo saw the beating a quarterback can take when pass protection does not hold up.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said he will make a decision on the 49ers’ starting quarterback before the team takes the practice field on Wednesday. Teams generally begin their preparations for upcoming opponents on Wednesdays.

Whomever starts at quarterback – rookie C.J. Beathard or Garoppolo, the newcomer – needs the full week of practice reps with the first-team offense to have his best chance of success on Sunday against the Chicago Bears, Shanahan said.

First off, it’s not even clear Beathard will be available to take part in a full week of practice. He sustained injuries to his left knee and hip on Sunday upon being taken down by Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett with a low hit after Bennett had already jumped offside.

(The play was not whistled dead before Bennett beat 49ers rookie Erik Magnuson, a fill-in at right tackle, to hit Beathard; and no penalty was called for a low hit on the quarterback.)

Beathard’s mobility will certainly be impacted, if he is deemed OK to play. But even when his legs have been healthy, he has not been able to avoid a large number of hits. It seems the only real decision Shanahan has is to anoint Garoppolo as the starter.

Right tackle Trent Brown was “close” to playing Sunday against Seattle with a shoulder injury, Shanahan said. The team expects him to be available to face the Bears on Sunday.

But that’s immaterial. Beathard might not be healthy, might not be able to protect himself by making the movements necessary to buy time or escape the pocket. He has been sacked 19 times in 5 ½ games since taking over for Brian Hoyer.

The 49ers’ issues with pass protection will not disappear if Garoppolo makes his first start with his new team on Sunday or whether Brown returns to the lineup.

Garoppolo can succeed in making his pass protection look better. He can show that he learned from the best in making quick decisions and subtle movements to avoid the punishment he saw Beathard endure.

Assuming he starts on Sunday, the person most responsible for protecting Jimmy Garoppolo on Sunday is Jimmy Garoppolo.

Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'


Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'

The 49ers’ coaching staff made its feelings known to center Daniel Kilgore throughout the season.

But, in the past, that would not have necessarily meant everyone in the organization had the same thoughts about Kilgore, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

“The whole season, coaches and I had a good relationship,” Kilgore said Wednesday on conference call with Bay Area reporters. “Just talking and having one-on-ones with various coaches, I had a positive outlook for the future.

“But that’s just one thing. The coaches have an opinion of you, but then there’s also the front office. That’s two totally different things. And I think for the first time in a long time, our coaches and the front office are on the same page.”

Kilgore was working out back home in Tennessee on Wednesday when he signed a three-year contract to avoid hitting the free-agent market. Kilgore, 30, a seven-year NFL veteran, described the contract as a team-friendly deal.

The 49ers presented Kilgore with a contract offer during the season but negotiations did not get serious until just recently. While the 49ers expressed interest in retaining Kilgore, he said he did not know what the future held for him when he packed his belongings from the locker room on the day after the season ended.

“It kind of makes you nervous because in this profession, people like the younger guys,” Kilgore said. “You just never know what will happen at any time, any given day, in the NFL. So toward the end, that last day of clearing out the locker, I didn’t know if I’d be back. I didn’t know if the Niners would want me back.”

Kilgore was named the winner of the organization’s top honor for an offensive lineman. Kilgore won the Bobb McKittrick Award for best exemplifying the dedication, excellence and commitment of the long-time 49ers offensive line coach. Kilgore started all 29 games in which he appeared the past two seasons, including a career-high 16 games last season.

"I've been here seven years and I consider the Bay Area my second home,” Kilgore said. “To be able to extend my career wearing the 49ers jersey was special to me. This team is heading in the right direction, I wanted to be a part of it."

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

Matt Maiocco

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

When Jimmy Garoppolo signed a contract that could pay him up to $137.5 million over the next five years, he was asked what convinced him during his nine weeks with the organization that he wanted to be with the 49ers for the long term.

“I think it was a number of things,” Garoppolo said last week. “The team, the acceptance that they had of me when I first got here from the get-go, the coaching staff, Kyle and Rich. It was a very welcoming environment, and I really liked that. We had some success down the stretch, and you could see that pieces were falling into place. We've got a long way to go, but I think we're moving in the right direction.”

Kyle, of course, is head coach Kyle Shanahan. Rich Scagarello is the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach, and the person from whom Garoppolo spent the most time after arriving in Santa Clara on Oct. 31 after a trade with the New England Patriots.

Garoppolo earned $3.5 million in his first four NFL seasons. His new contract makes him the NFL’s highest-paid player, making an average of $27.5 million per season, with $48.7 million fully guaranteed.

Scangarello, appearing this week on The 49ers Insider Podcast, talked about what he learned about Garoppolo from working so closely with him to teach him Shanahan's offense. Scangarello said there is no question in his mind the money will not change Garoppolo’s approach to his work.

“That’s why it was easy for the organization and everyone to invest in somebody like Jimmy Garoppolo,” Scangarello said. “I just think that’s not the kind of person he is. If you met his family, you know where he comes from, what he’s about. His brothers, his parents, are just good, solid people people. He’s made of the right stuff and I just don’t see that affecting him in that way.

“It’s just not who he is. That’s the fun part of working with somebody like that every day. When they’re really talented and they appreciate everything and they work at it, you have a chance to be a successful organization and they can be a great player. And I don’t think those things will ever affect him.”