C.J. Beathard is the 49ers' crash test dummy


C.J. Beathard is the 49ers' crash test dummy

It takes a lot to get football people – and I include fans here – to move past old narratives and code words.

Like 49er backup-quarterback-to-be C.J. Beathard, whose surname has actually become an instructional manual since he replaced Brian Hoyer. Now that he is quasi-officially cannon fodder for Jimmy Garoppolo, the new toy the 49ers are still keeping in the shrinkwrap until a later time, we hear a lot about how tough he is, and how he knows that this is all part of being a quarterback.

“That's what's so impressive,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said after Sunday’s 20-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. “I think those hits affect almost everybody. I haven't seen them affect him.”

Except that he knows that they will. They could make him skittish, or shell-shocked, career-devaluing, but they will not enhance his or his future job prospects. Being the tough guy as a quarterback never gets better, and the credit he gets for taking the weekly poundings never count in his favor later, except anecdotally.

And you don’t get reps with a future team because you provide great stories of individual heroism. Indeed, after a dodgy hit by former 49er Antoine Bethea that sparked a brawl that resulted in three ejections, one of those ejectees – 49er running back Carlos Hyde – won praise from Shanahan.

“I really loved how he went to our quarterback, went and got our quarterback's back,” Shanahan said in reference to Hyde. “And I thought our quarterback had a couple helmets to the head when he was in the pocket a few plays before and then he ended up scrambling and sliding and he got one again. I think our players had had enough.”

You know who else had enough? Beathard. Only he can’t say anything about it. He gets to get out of bed in slow motion, go to work with the same eagerness and know that the same thing is coming this Sunday. And then he gets to lose his starting job simply because the 49ers went out to get a designated savior – as though what they are saving the franchise from is Beathard, which isn’t entirely true.

But that’s the job of being a crash test dummy, and while the idea is that it is noble and honorable, it is also without any reward in the end. You can’t even complain about it.

“That’s one thing — I’m not afraid of getting hit,” Beathard said after the game, no doubt while his inner voice was shrieking at him, ‘THIS SUCKS! THIS IS LOUSY! TELL THEM!”

“That won’t affect me. It never has. I’m tough and I've been able to take things. Obviously if I’m injured I won’t force myself in there.”

Except that he will, and he will do it every time he is asked. Soon, though, if he hasn’t already come to this conclusion, he will realize that sympathetic sentences and statements of admiration from people safe from the chaotic menace cannot be turned in later for fabulous prizes. There is no “A Football Life” for C.J. Beathard. Just more (and this is the last time we’ll be resorting to this particular rhetorical cheapery) hard beatings.

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.”