KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It might be a cliché that C.J. Beathard continued to prepare since the end of last season as if he were the 49ers’ starting quarterback.
Beathard stood no chance of getting on the field for any meaningful playing time this season as long as Jimmy Garoppolo remained healthy. But after one devastating turn for the 49ers in Sunday's loss to the Chiefs, Beathard will have as many as 13 games to show the results of his work in the offseason.
“I got a lot of confidence in him,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said of Beathard. “He led us to our first win last year. He came in today and made a hell of a throw on that fourth down. No hesitation.
"C.J.’s a gamer. Everyone in here has a ton of respect for C.J.”
Beathard will make his first start of the season next Sunday when the 49ers travel to Carson to face the Los Angeles Chargers. And Beathard will be expected to play at a high level and give the 49ers a chance to win, according to his coaches and teammates.
“Coach Shanahan has the highest standards for every single person on this team, especially C.J. That’s why they took him in the third round,” 49ers tight end George Kittle said. “They thought so highly of him. He did his job last year, and he’s going to step up no matter what happens.”
In the immediate aftermath of Garoppolo sustaining a knee injury that was diagnosed as a torn ACL in his left knee (an MRI will be performed Monday to confirm the team’s fears), Beathard entered Sunday’s game against the Chiefs.
Beathard threw what appeared to be a 7-yard touchdown pass to Kittle on a fourth-and-goal play. But fullback Kyle Juszczyk was called for offensive pass interference, and the 49ers settled for a field goal with five minutes remaining in the loss.
Now, the 49ers’ hopes for the season rest with Beathard, a second-year pro who started five games last season after coming to the team as a third-round pick from Iowa.
“We have a great deal of confidence in C.J., man,” 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin said. “He started for us a few games last year and did his thing, helped get our first win of the season last year against the Giants. And there’s no doubt he’ll come in and assume his role and study up and do exactly what he needs to do to help us win.”
Beathard completed 123 of 224 passes (54.9 percent) for 1,430 yards and four touchdowns with six interceptions as a rookie. He was sacked 19 times.
“It’s huge having already played last year in six games,” Beathard said. “I feel like it will really help me going forward having had the experience. It’s not my first time in a live NFL game in the regular season. It is my second time around. I think it will be a little easier this time.”
“C.J. played a lot of games for us last year,” 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. “We have a lot of confidence that he’ll be able to come in. He knows the offense. It’s just one of those things, we just have to step up. If C.J.’s rolling out there, we’ll be ready to go.”
The 49ers already have dealt with crushing blows on offense this season. In the team’s first practice after the end of the preseason, running back Jerick (Jet) McKinnon sustained a torn ACL and was lost for the season.
“You can relate it to us losing Jet in the week before we started the season,” 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. “We had a lot of things schemed around him, same as we do with Jimmy. You just have to adapt, and I think Kyle [Shanahan] is the best in the business at that kind of stuff.”
Beathard said part of his duty for as long as he is the 49ers' starting quarterback is to be a leader and keep the team together through adversity.
“There is going to be every opportunity in the world for guys to be mad or down about certain things,” Beathard said. “But we have to keep the morale and stay positive and move onto the next week and get the [win] next week.”