49ers

Instant Analysis: Beathard, 49ers battle back but remain winless

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USATSI

Instant Analysis: Beathard, 49ers battle back but remain winless

BOX SCORE

LANDOVER, Md. – Coach Kyle Shanahan targeted Brian Hoyer to be his quarterback on the first day of free agency.

On Sunday, Shanahan felt as if he had no choice but to officially admit his mistake. And the 49ers saw an immediate improvement in the play of their struggling offense.

Rookie C.J. Beathard took over for Hoyer, who was benched in the second quarter after another poor performance, and helped the 49ers rally from a 17-point deficit.

But it ended up being the same old story for the winless 49ers, falling short in their comeback attempt Sunday with a 26-24 loss to Washington at FedEx Field.

Hoyer completed just four of his 11 pass attempts for 34 yards to prompt Shanahan to make the call to the bullpen. Beathard completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Beathard did not attempt a pass in the 49ers’ first five games of the season.

The 49ers rallied from a 17-0 deficit to tie the game on Carlos Hyde’s second 1-yard scoring run of the day. The play was set up when Ray-Ray Armstrong stripped former 49ers tight end Vernon Davis after a short completion.

Safety Jimmie Ward scooped up the loose ball and returned it 43 yards to the 1. (The play was originally ruled a touchdown. After a review, referee John Parry announced Ward stepped out of bounds 1 ½ yards from the goal line.)

The 49ers entered the game with four consecutive losses by three points or left. The club was also playing its third road game in three weeks to cap a tumultuous week, which included the team’s decision to release veteran linebacker NaVorro Bowman on Friday.

Two days later, the 49ers moved on from another veteran player – the quarterback who was brought to the team to run Shanahan’s offense. Hoyer previously played under Shanahan while both men were with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

But Hoyer could not find any consistency once the season began with the 49ers – his seventh team in nine NFL seasons.

Hoyer ranked near the bottom of nearly every passing category. He has completed 119 of 205 pass attempts (58 percent) for 1,245 yards with four touchdowns, four interceptions and a passer rating of 74.1.

Finally, Shanahan had seen enough.

Beathard appeared to provide the 49ers with a spark at the end of the first half after falling behind 17-0. The 49ers drove 75 yards in 11 plays and scored on Hyde’s 1-yard run on fourth down just before halftime.

Washington built a 17-point lead on Kirk Cousins’ two touchdown passes in the first half. Cousins completed 25 of 37 pass attempts for two touchdowns and one interception.

Washington took a 20-17 lead with 10:34 remaining in regulation on a short field goal after the 49ers’ defense stiffened near the goal line on good plays from Ward, Solomon Thomas and Dontae Johnson.

REID RETURNS
Safety Eric Reid returned to action after missing the past three games with a knee injury. But he did not step back into his starting role.

Jaquiski Tartt retained his starting role at strong safety. Reid entered the game when the 49ers went with six defensive backs, mostly in third-down situations.

THIS ‘N’ THAT
--Rookie Solomon Thomas recorded his second sack of the season, throwing Cousins for a 5-yard loss in the second quarter.

--The 49ers lost two defensive starters due to injuries. Arik Armstead sustained a hand injury in the second quarter and did not return. Aaron Lynch left with a calf injury in the third quarter that occurred as he was chasing Cousins from the pocket.

--With Reuben Foster declared inactive, the 49ers started Brock Coyle at inside linebacker, alongside Ray-Ray Armstrong. Coyle took over calling the 49ers’ defensive signals in the huddle.

--Robbie Gould made a 52-yard field goal in the third quarter to pull the 49ers to within 17-10. It was the 32nd consecutive made field goal for Gould, dating back to the 2015 season. But Gould’s streak ended on his next attempt, when he missed wide right from 47 yards.

--Rookie Trent Taylor busted a 39-yard punt return in the third quarter to set the 49ers up at midfield on the drive that ended with Gould’s miss.

--One play after Ward’s interception was overturned on review, cornerback Rashard Robinson made an over-the-shoulder interception of a deep Cousins pass. It was the second interception of Robinson’s career.

--Seven members of the 49ers took a knee and held their hands over their chests during the playing of the national anthem in silent protest of racial inequality in America. Those players were Reid, Marquise Goodwin, Adrian Colbert, Dekoda Watson (inactive), Eli Harold, Armstead and K’Waun Williams.

What they're saying: Happy Thanksgiving 2017

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What they're saying: Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Bay Area sports teams and your favorite players have plenty to be thankful for this year. 

Check out how the teams and players are celebrating Thanksgiving in 2017.

Shanahan: Garoppolo's best football will come next season

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USATSI

Shanahan: Garoppolo's best football will come next season

SANTA CLARA – The two quarterbacks who finish this season with the 49ers are probably going to be the same two quarterbacks the organization carry on their 2018 roster.

So every decision coach Kyle Shanahan makes with C.J. Beathard and Jimmy Garoppolo is being made to consider what is best for those two players.

Shanahan made the expected announcement this week that Beathard will make his fifth consecutive start on Sunday when the 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium.

Beathard is coming off his best game as a pro. He was a major contributor to the 49ers’ first victory of the season, throwing for 288 yards, throwing two touchdowns and rushing for a score in a 31-21 victory over the New York Giants. His performance seemingly did enough to earn him another start.

Meanwhile, Garoppolo pulled up to 49ers headquarters on Oct. 31 with no prior knowledge of Shanahan’s offensive system. Even as a rookie, Beathard has five more months of experience in the 49ers’ offense than Garoppolo, a four-year professional who made just two starts during his time with the New England Patriots.

“We’ve had C.J. in there for some time,” Shanahan said. “He’s getting more used to it, and I’m getting more used to him. The players are getting more used to him around him. It’s been nice to add a few things each week for him.”

General manager John Lynch reiterated this week he considers Garoppolo the 49ers’ quarterback of the future. Garoppolo is not under contract for next season. If the 49ers are unable to work out a multi-year extension, the club would be expected to designate him as their franchise player to retain him for the 2018 season.

Garoppolo is likely to get some playing time in the final six games of the season, but the 49ers have every reason to take their time in order to give him the best chance at success. On the first three days of the bye week, Garoppolo had a chance to go back to the beginning and learn the basics of the scheme in meetings with quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello and Shanahan.

Shanahan’s scheme is complex with unique verbiage and an abundance of adjustments that are required on any given play. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan took a step backward in his first season in Shanahan's scheme. The next year, Ryan was a runaway MVP winner with a career-high 38 touchdowns and a career-low seven interceptions.

It took Ryan a full season of experience with Shanahan to fully grasp his responsibilities, so it is unreasonable to believe Garoppolo would be able to do much more than just function if he gets onto the field for extended action.

“Jimmy gets more and more ready each week,” Shanahan said. “Is Jimmy going to be the best he can? To me, that’s impossible. He just hasn’t been here long enough, and I think he’ll get an opportunity to be better each week.

“I don’t think we’re going to see Jimmy’s best football, to be fair to him, until next year because that’s what guys need. But C.J. did play his best football last week, which definitely, to me, made the decision easier.”