49ers

49ers confident in C.J. Beathard as starting QB with Jimmy Garoppolo injured

49ers confident in C.J. Beathard as starting QB with Jimmy Garoppolo injured

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.”

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49ers legend Steve Young presents Gatorade Player of the Year Award winner

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Gatorade

49ers legend Steve Young presents Gatorade Player of the Year Award winner

Sophie Jones runs the soccer field, both literally and figuratively. 

She tallied 18 goals, 16 assists and 1.55 points per game for the Knights of Menlo School in Atherton, Calif. Those stats helped lift her team to a 20-win season, which turned into a Central Coast Section Division 1 tournament title.

With those achievements, Jones walked away with the Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year honor Wednesday. 

A friend presented the senior with the trophy -- but not just any friend: 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young.

"It's such an honor, and I can't believe they chose me," Jones said in Gatorade's promotional presentation video.

Jones also maintains solid numbers off the field, with a 3.65 GPA that helps her be recruited by some of the nation's top athletic programs. According to Gatorade, she plans to attend Duke later this year.

A "stellar human being with a fierce inner strength," as her teachers describe her, Jones also volunteers for a U-14 youth soccer team and the Boys and Girls Club, and has worked at the Special Olympics Buddy Program. That shows in her playing abilities on the field as well, with her coach saying he's never witnessed such a selfless player.

"Sophie worked tirelessly to elevate her game year after year, becoming high-impact talent," said Chad Konecky, Gatorade Player of the Year director. "She wins balls, finishes, defends, disrupts and creates in transition, and arguably reads the game as well as any U-20 player in the world."

Young complimented Jones, calling the achievement an exciting one -- and one that very few have ever done. 

Congrats, Sophie!

49ers' Mitch Wishnowsky has deep repertoire of punts from Aussie rules days

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AP

49ers' Mitch Wishnowsky has deep repertoire of punts from Aussie rules days

Mitch Wishnowsky admits he could have been more consistent during the 49ers’ recently concluded offseason program.

The rookie punter, at his best, was very good and gave his teammates and coaches a reason to believe a fourth-round draft pick spent on a punter was a worthy investment.

The 49ers selected the native of Australia with the No. 110 overall selection. General manager John Lynch opted to fill the spot vacated when Bradley Pinion signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, rather than select a defensive back or an offensive lineman.

Wishnowsky has an assortment of different punts, which he picked up playing a sport in which punters are not considered specialists. Everyone must learn to punt, oftentimes while on the move, in the game Wishnowsky played back home.

“A lot of the punts you sort of learn growing up playing Australian rules football,” Wishnowsky said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “There’s tradeoffs with every punt.”

Wishnowsky explained his different styles:

“The stock-standard end-over-end punt is a lot more accurate but you can’t get quite as much height or distance on it.

“The spiral, obviously, is the biggest ball. It goes the highest and the furthest.

“The helicopter punt is great, very hard to catch. You can’t kick it quite as far as the spiral. But if you slightly mishit it, it’s going the opposite direction that you want it to.”

Wishnowsky moved to California to punt on the Santa Barbara City College football team in 2014. He transferred to the University of Utah, where he won the 2016 Ray Guy Award and was the only three-time finalist in the history of the award.

The only downside of his final college season was three blocked punts, something he worked to eliminate during his offseason with the 49ers.

“I’ve got to get the ball off in 1.3 seconds, which is what I’ve been doing pretty consistently,” Wishnowsky said. “And the snap is a .7. So if the whole operation is 2 seconds or below, you should be good. Then, also launch point. You want to pretty much as it hits your foot (you’re) directly behind the snapper, so you’re not at risk of getting it blocked.”

[RELATED: Why No. 2 QB job between Beathard and Mullens is toss-up entering camp]

Wishnowsky also will be the 49ers’ holder and, likely, handle kickoff duties. He said he has yet to speak with veteran kicker Robbie Gould, who remains unsigned as the team’s franchise player. Gould has demanded a trade. The 49ers said they will not trade him.

In the meantime, Jonathan Brown, who spent the three previous offseasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and has not appeared in an NFL regular-season game, was the only kicker in Santa Clara.

“The last two years, I’ve been with Matt (Gay), who was drafted to Tampa Bay (in the fifth round),” Wishnowsky said. “I’ve been around great kickers, and Jon is up there. He’s phenomenal the way he contacts the ball. Jon is a very impressive kicker.”