49ers

49ers' backup QB competition likely won't be decided until final cut

49ers' backup QB competition likely won't be decided until final cut

The 49ers have not kept three quarterbacks on their initial 53-man roster since coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch arrived in 2017.

And Shanahan seemed to imply the club will keep two at the beginning of this season, too. C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens are competing for the backup role behind starter Jimmy Garoppolo.

“I know we have two backup quarterbacks who are both capable of starting and I would be happy with either one as our backup,” Shanahan said after the team returned to the Bay Area from its 24-15 preseason victory over the Denver Broncos on Monday night.

“One of those guys is going to win the job, and we will make that decision. I do not see myself making that decision until I absolutely have to, and that probably won’t be until the final 53.”

If the 49ers were to keep three quarterbacks on their roster, a decision on the backup would not have to be made until 90 minutes before the regular-season opener on Sunday, Sept. 8, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when seven inactive players must be announced.

Shanahan said he is in “a pretty good spot,” as far as determining the backup. But he said he has yet to determine who will follow Garoppolo in the preseason game Saturday night at Kansas City. Then, he said, the other quarterback likely will see the bulk of the playing time in the final exhibition game, Thursday, Aug. 24, against the Los Angeles Chargers.

“I feel very good with both the guys,” Shanahan said. “We’ve had both of the guys here in a lot of game situations. But it’s been a fun battle to watch. I think both of them are playing better than they have the last two years.”

Based on how both quarterbacks have performed in regular-season games, Mullens is the favorite. Last season, he averaged 284.6 yards passing – fourth-most in NFL history through eight games – with 13 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 90.0 passer rating.

Beathard averaged 250.4 yards passing with eight touchdowns, seven interceptions and a passer rating of 81.8. Beathard also was sacked with more frequency than Mullens.

[RELATED: Why it's obvious Jimmy G has significant hurdles to clear]

But Shanahan designs his offense around the big play, and that is where Beathard could have the advantage because of his willingness to sit in the pocket and let downfield routes develop.

“Every time C.J.’s in there you’ve got a chance for a big play,” Shanahan said. “He loves the big play.”

Beathard had two opportunities for big plays Monday night. He overthrew Richie James on a deep corner route to the right side, then Kendrick Bourne failed to hold onto a deep ball down the left side.

“I thought C.J. missed a couple plays early, but nothing too bad,” Shanahan said. “Then Nick came in and didn’t have many opportunities, but made the best (of them).”

Mullens and Bourne teamed up for a well-timed and delivered 1-yard touchdown on a fade route against tight coverage.

49ers snap count: Raheem Mostert taking over as team's top back

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49ers snap count: Raheem Mostert taking over as team's top back

Raheem Mostert has never started a game in his NFL career, but he has become the 49ers’ leading rusher and most-used running back.

Mostert played 40 of the 49ers’ 67 offensive snaps on Sunday and has become a valuable member of the team’s offense after earning his way onto the roster primarily because of his skills as a special-teams performer.

Mostert gained 69 yards and a touchdown on 10 rushing attempts in the 49ers’ exhilarating 48-46 victory over the New Orleans Saints. He also caught two passes for 40 yards and a touchdown.

Mostert has taken over the team’s rushing lead with 608 yards and four touchdowns on 102 rushing attempts with a 6.0 average.

Matt Breida returned to action Sunday after missing three games with an ankle sprain. Breida played 12 snaps and gained 54 yards on six rushing attempts.

Tevin Coleman started his eighth game of the season but was on the field for just 11 snaps. He gained 6 yards on three carries. The 49ers’ fourth running back, Jeff Wilson, was inactive for the game.

Here is a look at how much everyone on the 49ers played Sunday on offense, defense and special teams:

Offense

Total offensive snaps: 67
Quarterback – Jimmy Garoppolo 67
Running back – Raheem Mostert 40, Kyle Juszczyk 29, Matt Breida 12, Tevin Coleman 11
Wide receiver – Emmanuel Sanders 63, Deebo Samuel 53, Kendrick Bourne 38, Richie James 11
Tight end – George Kittle 62, Ross Dwelley 9, Garrett Celek 7
Offensive line – Laken Tomlinson 67, Mike Person 67, Mike McGlinchey 67, Joe Staley 67, Ben Garland 36, Weston Richburg 31
Did not play – QB Nick Mullens

Defense

Total defensive snaps: 72
Defensive line – Nick Bosa 68, DeForest Buckner 64, Arik Armstead 63, D.J. Jones 33, Solomon Thomas 33, Sheldon Day 14, Jeremiah Valoaga 9, Dee Ford 4
Linebacker – Fred Warner 72, Dre Greenlaw 71, Azeez Al-Shaair 9, Mark Nzeocha 1
Defensive back – Jimmie Ward 72, Marcell Harris 72, Ahkello Witherspoon 69, Richard Sherman 63, K’Waun Williams 53, Emmanuel Moseley 15, D.J. Reed 6, Tarvarius Moore 1

Special teams

Moore 29, Elijah Lee 28, Nzeocha 28, Moseley 26, Al-Shaair 24, Mitch Wishnowsky 20, James 19, Antone Exum 18, Mostert 16, Armstead 15, Buckner 15, Ward 15, Dwelley 14, Celek 13, Kyle Nelson 12, Jones 12, Bourne 10, Harris 9, Reed 9, Robbie Gould 8, Justin Skule 8, McGlinchey 8, Tomlinson 8, Thomas 7, Person 5, Breida 5, Greenlaw 5, Daniel Brunskill 4, Garland 4, Richburg 4, Juszczyk 4, Warner 1, Bosa 1, Williams 1, Day 1

Not active

QB C.J. Beathard
WR Marquise Goodwin
WR Dante Pettis
DB Jaquiski Tartt
RB Jeff Wilson
DT Jullian Taylor
TE Levine Toilolo

NFL rumors: 49ers' Richard Sherman strains hamstring, could miss weeks

NFL rumors: 49ers' Richard Sherman strains hamstring, could miss weeks

Richard Sherman reportedly could miss multiple weeks after straining his hamstring. 

A Monday MRI revealed Sherman picked up a Grade 2 hamstring strain in the 49ers' 48-46 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, NFL Media's Tom Pelissero reported Monday, citing a source. Sherman's status for Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons is "in doubt," according to Pelissero. 

Sherman sprained his knee in the 49ers' Week 13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, but still suited up against the Saints. He has played in every game during his second season with the 49ers, intercepting three passes and posting the fourth-highest Pro Football Focus grade of his career. 

[RELATED: What Jimmy G told Kittle before biggest play of 49ers' season]

The 11-2 49ers are in the driver's seat for the NFC's top seed, with home games against the Falcons (4-9) and Los Angeles Rams (8-5) before traveling to Seattle for a potential winner-take-all game for the NFC West against the Seahawks in Week 17.

San Francisco can surely survive one week without Sherman, but games against the reigning NFC champions and his former team could prove difficult in his absence.