Hoyer excited to carry out Shanahan's plan: 'Most comfortable I’ve ever been'

Hoyer excited to carry out Shanahan's plan: 'Most comfortable I’ve ever been'

SANTA CLARA – The team’s most-proven offensive weapon is the reason Brian Hoyer decided on the first day of free agency to sign a two-year contract with the 49ers.

Kyle Shanahan served the past nine seasons as an offensive coordinator before the 49ers hired him as head coach. Hoyer knew Shanahan well from their season together with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

“That was a big reason why I came here,” Hoyer said. “I knew, having played for Kyle before, how great he was piecing things together. Then, you watch him go to Atlanta and do the same thing, even to a bigger stage really, taking them all the way to the Super Bowl.

“For me it was probably the deciding factor coming out here was just to play for Kyle and knowing that his scheme and the way he game plans games, that was what I wanted to be a part of.”

Hoyer was targeted to be the 49ers’ starting quarterback. He strengthened his grip on the job throughout the offseason program and training camp. The Hoyer-led 49ers open the regular season on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium.

The 49ers are Hoyer’s seventh team in nine NFL seasons. But this is the first time he has entered a situation as the only reasonable option to be the starter.

“It helps Brian knowing that we believe in him,” Shanahan said during an interview for “49ers Game Plan,” which will debut Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area.

“He knows we believe in him. He's done a good job. We don't believe in him just because we say that. He's earned it with us. I think he's earned it with the players out there. They get to see him on the practice field every day. Players aren't just going to believe in someone just because you say he's your starting quarterback.”

Hoyer took command of his leadership role. He organized a get-together for 49ers quarterbacks and receivers for three days of work and camaraderie at Southern Methodist University in Dallas three weeks before training camp.

The 49ers might not have any Pro Bowl players at the offensive skill positions, but there appears to be plenty of options for Shanahan. Depending on the specific matchup, Shanahan could feature such players as running back Carlos Hyde, versatile fullback Kyle Juszczyk, possession receiver Pierre Garçon, speedster Marquise Goodwin or rookie slot receiver Trent Taylor.

On the practice field, Hoyer was one of the standouts of the summer, as he distributed the ball in nearly equal portions to all of his targets. His ability to throw the deep ball appears to be a great match for Shanahan’s system, which is predicated on using the run game to set up play-action passes.

“One of skills that really stands out to me is as a play-action passer,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said on the “49ers Insider Podcast.”

“The thing that I’ve been incredibly impressed with – and maybe I didn’t see on film – is how good of a deep ball thrower he is. We have a guy in Marquise Goodwin who can go get it. Aldrick Robinson can go get it; Victor Bolden is the same way. You need someone who can put it out there, and he has that in a big way. That has been a pleasant surprise.”

The future of the 49ers’ quarterback situation remains unsettled. But Hoyer gets the first opportunity to prove to Lynch and Shanahan that he is the franchise’s best long-term option – rather than investing big money in a veteran, such as Kirk Cousins, or spending a high draft pick on a quarterback.

Hoyer is not looking ahead because he is having too much enjoyment with his current situation.

“This has been the most fun I’ve ever had playing football,” Hoyer said. “It’s the most comfortable I’ve ever been. Being able to come in day one and kind of be handed the reigns and to having the control and implement the offense and do those things and get all the reps, I think it’s been huge.

“I feel really good about where we are heading into Week 1 and we’ve just got to keep improving. We’ve improved all offseason. I feel like we got better each day in training camp and we’ve got to keep that same mentality heading into the regular season.”

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Kyle Shanahan is, self admittedly, not a patient person. As he watched quarterback C.J. Beathard run the scout team over the last couple of weeks -- how he visualized an unfamiliar play, went through his progressions and handled the defensive coverages -- the head coach saw rapid improvement every day. But he suppressed any urge to play the rookie before he was ready.

“I tried to wait for the right time for him and the right time for the team,” Shanahan explained.

Down 14-0 to Washington halfway through the second quarter with starter Brian Hoyer struggling, Shanahan knew Beathard’s time had come.

“I felt the team needed it right then,” Shanahan said. “It also made me more confident to do it because I thought he was ready for it, also.”

Moments after the game was over, Shanahan named Beathard the starter. Watching the game tape on the flight home only bolstered his decision.

“By no means was he perfect, missed a couple of things, but that always happens,” Shanahan said. “I thought he came in there, didn’t hesitate, competed. The moment was not too big for him. Made a few plays in rhythm, made a few off schedule plays and was a big reason we got back in that game.”

Beathard led the 49ers on two scoring drives and finished 19-of-36 with 245 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception, though it came on fourth-and-20 on his final pass attempt of the game. On his 45-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson, Beathard extended the play when the fifth year receiver wasn’t where he expected him to be.

“He was supposed to go to the post for a certain coverage, and they had a busted coverage, so he just hung out there which is why C.J. didn’t see it right away,” Shanahan explained. “We had enough protection where he could take a couple more hitches. He drove the pocket and saw where Aldrick was, and he didn’t hesitate. Made that throw with that arm strength.”

Shanahan smirked at his not-so-subtle dig at those who questioned Beathard’s arm strength during the draft process. He sees a quarterback who can make all the throws, and make them from the pocket, and scramble when he needs to. All he needs now, Shanahan contends, is experience.

“It’s about playing in the game and reacting to defenses, reacting to coverages, reacting to adjustments. He’s going to see a lot of things he hasn’t seen before, and that will change each week. It will probably change each quarter.”

Helping Beathard continue to grow through those experiences will require patience, but in this situation, it’s the kind the head coach can handle.

“You’re never going to get a quick answer. You see over time, but he’s got the ability to do it. He’s got the mental toughness to do it. I think he will get better the more he plays.”

Armstead to undergo surgery on broken hand, out indefinitely


Armstead to undergo surgery on broken hand, out indefinitely

Defensive lineman Arik Armstead will be out indefinitely with a broken hand, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan announced Monday.

“He’s going to need surgery, so it’s going to be some time,” Shanahan said of Armstead, the 49ers' first-round pick in the 2015 draft.

The 49ers will discuss placing Armstead of injured reserve, which would rule him out for at least eight weeks. The 49ers will also be without defensive end Aaron Lynch this week against the Dallas Cowboys. Lynch is week-to-week with a calf strain.

“The more guys you lose, the less you like that depth,” Shanahan said. “Losing Arik, which could be some time. We’ll have to discuss IR. We have to do that over the next couple of days. We know we’re going to have Lynch out, too, for at least a week or most likely more. That takes away two guys who were helping.”

The 49ers might make a roster move to add a defensive lineman to their 53-man roster. The 49ers also expect outside linebacker/defensive end Dekoda Watson to return to action this week after missing two weeks with a groin strain.