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.”

NFL Draft 2020: Justin Jefferson, Jalen Reagor meet 49ers at combine


NFL Draft 2020: Justin Jefferson, Jalen Reagor meet 49ers at combine

Despite only possessing one pick before the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the 49ers still are doing their due diligence at the NFL Scouting Combine this week in Indianapolis.

San Francisco has met with a pair of wide receivers this week in LSU product Justin Jefferson and former TCU speedster Jalen Reagor.

Jefferson, who was part of LSU’s national championship-winning squad in 2019, said his meeting with the 49ers was informal, while Reagor mentioned that the team highlighted his versatility when discussing his potential fit within the offense.

Coming off a trip to the Super Bowl, the Niners aren’t faced with a lot of glaring needs along the roster, but wide receiver certainly ranks high among the few holes general manager John Lynch must address this offseason.

The 49ers didn’t have a wide receiver eclipse the 1,000-yard mark last season, with All-Pro tight end George Kittle barely surpassing it (1,053).

Jefferson caught an NCAA Division I-best 111 passes for the Tigers in 2019 and closed out his final collegiate season with 1,540 yards. In the latest NBC Sports Bay Area mock draft, Jefferson wasn't available when the Niners were on the clock at No. 31.

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Reagor’s broad skillset likely would mesh well with the 49ers’ motion-heavy offense, as Reagor made big plays for the Horned Frogs in the running, receiving, and return game during his three seasons in Fort Worth.

This will be Lynch and Shanahan’s first opportunity to draft outside of the top five in the first round, as they hope to build on a breakout 2019 season.

49ers hoping receiver Jalen Hurd will be cleared for offseason program

49ers hoping receiver Jalen Hurd will be cleared for offseason program

INDIANAPOLIS -- Even before the 49ers have the opportunity to select a wide receiver in the draft, the club expects to add the services of a young pass-catcher.

Jalen Hurd, a third-round draft pick from a year ago, appears to be on schedule to receive clearance to rejoin the 49ers when the offseason program begins in April. Hurd spent his rookie season on injured reserve due to a stress fracture in his lower back.

“For it to completely heal, it happens on different timelines,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “We found that his has been stubborn. We think he’s been nearing towards a much better place where he’ll be cleared for all activities.

“(We) don’t want to officially give that word, but there have been some recent scans and things that give us a lot of hope that that’ll be the case, come April 1, he’ll be a full-go.”

Hurd was not around the team too much during his rookie season. He did not travel to Miami for Super Bowl LIV due to concerns about aggravating his back condition.

“I think there’s a little anxiety on his part that the long plane rides had set him off before and he worked so hard to try to get right, and kind of didn’t want that to enter the equation,” Lynch said.

[RELATED49ers roster analysis: More receiver depth needed around Deebo Samuel]

In order for Hurd's back to heal, the 49ers and Hurd felt it was best to keep him off his feet.  

“With his back stuff, he didn’t want to travel, didn’t want to be in the meetings and everything," head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "There wasn’t much to do. He had a stress fracture and it’s taking a long time to heal, so we wanted him to be as immobile as possible.”

Hurd (6-foot-4, 227 pounds) caught 69 passes for 946 yards and four touchdowns in his senior season at Baylor in 2018. He played his first three college seasons at Tennessee, where he rushed for 2,635 yards and 20 touchdowns as a running back.

Hurd appeared in the 49ers’ preseason opener last summer and caught two touchdown passes against the Dallas Cowboys before experiencing the back condition that sidelined him for the rest of the season.