C.J. Beathard

Beathard's lesson from Shanahan and Garoppolo after benching

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AP

Beathard's lesson from Shanahan and Garoppolo after benching

Rookie C.J. Beathard won the job as the 49ers’ backup quarterback to Brian Hoyer to open the season. And he finished as the No. 2 behind Jimmy Garoppolo.

In between, Beathard made five starts – complete with the requisite highs and lows – while learning Kyle Shanahan’s complex offense. He believes he is a much better player after gaining that experience.

“Those were really beneficial,” Beathard said at the conclusion of the season. “There’s nothing like getting ready and getting better by getting those actual reps. I think it was a huge to get those reps in game situations against some of the best players in the world.”

Beathard, 24, completed 54.9 percent of his pass attempts with four touchdowns and six interceptions. His passer rating was 69.2. He rushed for three touchdowns and was sacked 19 times.

“It’ll help tremendously,” Beathard said of his playing time. “At the end of the day, it’s my rookie year. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better. I can’t imagine having been in this offense for two, three, four, five years and becoming a master of it, and knowing exactly what Kyle is thinking and be able to execute even better.”

Beathard took over for a struggling Hoyer in the sixth game of the season at Washington. He helped the 49ers to their first victory of the season, a 31-21 win over the New York Giants on Nov. 12.

He started three games after the 49ers acquired Garoppolo in the blockbuster trade with the New England Patriots before stepping aside. Beathard said he continued to prepare and learn even after he became Garoppolo’s backup.

“It was my rookie year, so I was learning a lot, taking it all in and soaking in every little bit of knowledge I could learn from Kyle, Jimmy, anybody," Beathard said. "Being in the NFL, you learn a lot getting those reps, valuable reps. I think I learned a lot and will continue to get better from that.”

Before the 49ers made the trade for Garoppolo it was assumed they would either make a play to acquire a veteran or invest a high draft pick to enact a long-term plan at quarterback.

Now, the 49ers have reason to head into the offseason feeling good about their quarterback situation. Beathard, whom the 49ers traded up to acquire late in the third round, said he believes he should benefit from a full offseason of work.

“Physically, there are certain things you can work on,” he said. “But it’s so engrained in your training that you’re really not going to change anybody’s mechanics at this point. But, definitely, there are some things footwork-wise that everyone can get better at and I’ll try to get better at this offseason.”

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

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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.

Beathard's injuries defined; Shanahan to make QB decision by Wednesday

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Beathard's injuries defined; Shanahan to make QB decision by Wednesday

SANTA CLARA -- Quarterback C.J. Beathard sustained a knee contusion and a hip strain Sunday that could limit his practice time this week, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.

Beathard's injury is not expected to keep him out of action for long, though his availability for this week could be in question. Shanahan said he would make a decision by Wednesday whether Beathard or Jimmy Garoppolo will start Sunday against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

"To give those guys the best chance to be successful, you want to give them all the reps, which still isn't enough reps," Shanahan said. "Any time you split those evenly, it's kind of a disservice to both. If you need those reps to make a decision, I've done that before in other situations when you have to do it, but that's usually a situation you want to try to avoid."

Shanahan watched film with both quarterbacks on Sunday. The first practice of the week is scheduled for Wednesday.

Garoppolo played three snaps Sunday in the 49ers' 24-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He scrambled for 4 yards, tossed an 8-yard pass to Aldrick Robinson and a 10-yard scoring throw to Louis Murphy.

Garoppolo entered the game with 1:07 remaining after Beathard went down with an injury. Beathard has completed 123 of 224 pass attempts (54.9 percent) for 1,430 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions and a passer rating of 69.2.

INJURY REPORT
Running back Raheem Mostert (knee) and offensive lineman Erik Magnuson (foot) will go on injured reserve after sustaining injuries in Sunday's game. Mostert sustained a torn medial collateral ligament, which will not require surgery. Magnuson sustained a foot sprain in the first half and played the entire game with the injury.

"He toughed it out, played throughout the whole game. It was a pretty bad foot sprain, so he's going to have to go on IR," Shanahan said. "I was pretty amazed. Got a lot of respect for that guy for staying out there and battling through that, especially with how short we were at tackles.

"You get an undrafted rookie guard out there starting at right tackle for you going against (Seattle defensive end) Michael Bennett playing with a foot sprain for three quarters to where he's not going to be able to play the rest of the year, he doesn't flinch, doesn't hesitate, just keeps playing, doesn’t say anything, that's a guy I'd love to play with.”

Free safety Adrian Colbert is expected to return to practice this week in a limited role. He missed Sunday's game after undergoing surgery a week earlier to repair a broken thumb.

“We'll see how the week goes with him and how it heals and how he feels," Shanahan said. "There is a chance that he could play this week. Feel definitely better about him the following week versus Houston, but there's a chance.”