C.J. Beathard appears more comfortable in 49ers' starting QB role

C.J. Beathard appears more comfortable in 49ers' starting QB role

SANTA CLARA – C.J. Beathard sauntered to the lectern in the 49ers’ press-conference room wearing white socks with no shoes. He was unshaven, his hat on backward.

He looked like someone who overslept on a weekend and was getting ready to be anchored to his couch to watch a day of football.

Instead, Beathard was making his first public appearance as the 49ers’ starting quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo’s season came to an abrupt end on Sunday in Kansas City with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Beathard played 5 ½ games for the 49ers last season as a rookie. He entered the lineup to replace a struggling Brian Hoyer and he exited when coach Kyle Shanahan determined Garoppolo was ready enough to step in.

Beathard looks and sounds comfortable in his return to a starting role, that’s for sure.

“Just having that experience, having gone out there and played in five NFL games, there’s nothing you can do to simulate those reps in practice,” Beathard said. “The only way you can do it is by going out there and actually getting those game-time reps.

“Just being another year under the system and Kyle’s offense helps a ton, just the knowledge of the offense, getting through progressions quicker and all of that kind of stuff.”

If there was one area in particular that Beathard needs to improve greatly from his time as a starter last season, it’s the speed with which he goes through his progressions in order to avoid sacks and hits.

Last season, Beathard was sacked 19 times for an average of one sack for every 12.8 drop-backs. After Garoppolo took over, the sacks allowed were reduced to once every 14.7 times he dropped back to throw.

The 49ers were 1-4 in Beathard’s five starts last season. The team got off to a franchise-worst 0-9 record before Beathard threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-21 win over the New York Giants in Week 10.

In all, Beathard completed 54.9 percent of his passes for 1,430 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions. He has much higher expectations this time around.

“I think we’ve got a lot better team than we did last year,” Beathard said. “I really like the group that we have and obviously doing what I can do to get the ball out of my hands quicker and making reads quicker. As a whole team, everyone, the O-Line, receivers, running backs, everyone can add their part to help that.”

Beathard has an opportunity to start the 49ers’ final 13 games of the regular season. But to give himself a better chance to remaining on the field, he has to make quicker reads and avoid unnecessary hits. Veteran wide receiver Pierre Garçon said he has witnessed Beathard making improvements in that area.

“That comes with being comfortable,” Garçon said. “When you know what to expect, you know the plays, you know the depth, it comes with comfort and experience, and that’s what he’s got. Over the summertime, that’s what he’s been working on. It comes with time.”

Shanahan said he called on Beathard to play before he had intended last season. Hoyer’s poor play in six starts left Shanahan with no other choice. And, then, watching from the sideline as Garoppolo and the team finished on a five-game win streak was a positive experience, too.

“Going through it the first time and stuff, it’s always slower no matter how hard you work at it,” Shanahan said. “(He) had some ups and downs and then I thought he got to sit back and watch Jimmy and watch someone else try to go through it. I think that helped him going into the offseason.”

Shanahan said he believes Beathard is tough enough to have benefited from being forced to play early in his professional career.

“I was worried because we didn’t have much of a choice,” Shanahan said. “That wasn’t exactly the situation I wanted to put C.J. into. That’s why I think myself and a lot of our team earned a lot of respect for him.

“He never wavered, never saw his confidence change and when he eventually was benched and we put Jimmy in, you would think a guy would be less confident after that. You guys can ask him, but I truly believe he was more confident. Even though he struggled at times, he truly believed he could do it. Those are the kind of guys you want to go to battle with.”

And that might be part of the reason Beathard looked so comfortable on Wednesday when he addressed the media for the first time in 2018 as the starting quarterback.

“Of course he’s more ready because he’s got experience now,” Garçon said. “He’s very experienced, and I’m sure he’s looking forward to it. We all know he’s got way more experience that comes when you play in this league and it comes with time.

“We definitely have a lot of confidence in C.J. He’s familiar with the guys, familiar with the system, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary for him.”

Why Kyle Shanahan had to abort rep with Jimmy Garoppolo at 49ers minicamp


Why Kyle Shanahan had to abort rep with Jimmy Garoppolo at 49ers minicamp

Jimmy Garoppolo was moving along in his rehab from the torn ACL he suffered in Week 3 of the 2018 season.

So, toward the end of minicamp, head coach Kyle Shanahan wanted to get his quarterback a rep or two in 11-on-11s. Shanahan's instructions to his defensive line were to stand still with their hands up and to not touch the franchise quarterback.

Shanahan's orders were heard, but the instincts of his defense took over and the head coach had to jump in to avoid catastrophe. 

"The animals that they are, why we love them, they couldn't help it," Shanahan told ESPN about his defensive line during the drill. "I saw it, so I stopped it. I wasn't going to mess with it."

After the minor heart attack, Shanahan was able to laugh it off. 

"I liked it, after I got over it," Shanahan said.

Exhale, Niners fans.

[RELATED: These three players are most important to 49ers' success in 2019]

Garoppolo has proclaimed himself "good to go" as training camp approaches, but hopefully, the 49ers' defensive line gets the memo during the next drill.

49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo working with 'quarterback whisperer' Tom House


49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo working with 'quarterback whisperer' Tom House

The work 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has in front of him won't be as enduring as the rehabilitation process -- that's the good news. But he's not out of the woods yet.

After suffering a torn ACL in his left knee last September, all of his focus can be concentrated on taking himself to the next level to become the best he can be. That means bringing in the talents of Tom House.

House, a "quarterback whisperer," has coached the names of Drew Brees, Alex Smith, Carson Palmer, and Jimmy G's former teammate, Tom Brady. 

"When he shows up, you know what you're going to get," House told ESPN's Nick Wagoner.

Garoppolo was described by House as being "humble and hungry for success," just as the other, star quarterbacks are. That makes House's job much easier.

For the next month or so, Jimmy G will work with the staff at 3DQB, House and CEO Adam Dedeaux, motion mechanics instructor John Beck and motion expert Taylor Kelly on everything -- and I mean everything. The 3DQB plan includes fundamental throwing mechanics, sure, but they also monitor Garoppolo's nutrition and sleep.

He won't be alone in some of the training sessions but didn't name names of teammates that would be joining him.

"During these 40 days, you do so many different things, physical, mental," Garoppolo said. "You're trying to recover at the same time [as] getting ready for training camp. I think just having the timing of the offense down, being in rhythm with the receivers that I'll work with and everything, and just getting comfortable. It's been a little while since I've been in 11-on-11 football, so just getting as comfortable as I can as quickly as I can."

House, aware of Garoppolo's medical rehab, wants to make sure the next steps are the right ones for the two-time Super Bowl champ.

"As the performance part of the rehab, we are working in lockstep with the medical rehab," House said. "We just make sure to coordinate accordingly. You don't want to undo anything the medical has done, and you don't want to overdo anything on the performance side. When you've got a guy like Jimmy -- and I had met him and got to know him a little bit when he was with the Patriots -- and obviously he gets along really well with the young coaches on our staff, so it was a good fit in both directions."   

But there's no rush.

"I think all of that will come with time," Garoppolo said. "I'll try to implement as many drills as I can during these 40 days or so. But, I think once until the bullets start flying and everything, then we'll really see."

House pitched for seven seasons in Major League Baseball across three teams. He earned his Ph.D. in Sports/Performance Psychology while he was becoming a pitching coach. He began working with quarterbacks in 2006 when Brees was rehabbing a dislocated right shoulder. 

[RELATED: Jimmy G on work he did with Mike Shanahan]

Since then, he's worked with just about every notable quarterback you can imagine. Brees himself said House doesn't stop at the physical but works with the individual whole. Brees mentioned in his book, "Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Power of Adversity," coming into training camp for that season, he was a different player than before. "I was coming back stronger and better than ever."

It appears Jimmy G's newest coach and his staff are the perfect guys to have in your corner.