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.”