C.J. Beathard-Nick Mullens competition for 49ers' backup QB job far from over


C.J. Beathard-Nick Mullens competition for 49ers' backup QB job far from over

SANTA CLARA — The competition to be the 49ers' backup quarterback between C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens will continue through training camp as both signal-callers look to stake claim to the role of Jimmy Garoppolo's No. 2.

“At this point in the year as a position coach what I’m really trying to do is help all the quarterbacks get better,” quarterbacks coach Shane Day said. “They have individual things that each of them are working on and they are getting better.” 

Garoppolo has the starting position locked down and his rehab is progressing on schedule to have him be ready for full participation in training camp. While he sits out of 11-on-11 team drills during organized team activities, both Beathard and Mullens have gotten an equal share of the reps. 

Coach Kyle Shanahan reported that Beathard and Mullens will compete with each other through training camp for the backup position. Day reiterated that the decision won’t occur until late in the preseason. 

“The evaluation part of it, comes much later in the process, when we get towards the end of preseason, that third game,” Day said. “Right now we’re just trying to get better every single day at everything. Both of those guys have done a really good job in my opinion.” 

Beathard has been sacked 37 times in the 13 games he has appeared in. An injury to his hand that occurred in the backfield ultimately ended his season in 2018 giving way to Mullens. Beathard is trying to be more cognizant of the pass rush. 

“C.J. is really working on his pocket awareness and feeling when defenders are moving in on him, moving in the pocket and finding the soft spots,” Day said. 

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While Mullens put up good statistics in short yardage situations, his accuracy dropped in passes over 20 yards down the field. Day said improving his deep pass is a focus during OTAs.

“Nick is just continuing to progress. He’s been working on a lot of things, as far as throwing balls down the field, outside the numbers, that type of thing. Just kind of increasing his game,” Day said. 

“Both of those guys have done a great job and there’s a ton of little teeny micro adjustments that we make every day and those guys have kind of picked that up as we’ve worked on that.”

49ers' Kyle Shanahan ranked as 23rd-best veteran head coach by NFL.com


49ers' Kyle Shanahan ranked as 23rd-best veteran head coach by NFL.com

The first two years of 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan's tenure has been light on wins, yet expectations remain high. 

San Francisco was 10-22 in Shanahan's first two seasons at the helm, searching for a quarterback before acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo in 2017 and scrambling to replace him after he tore his ACL last year. There have been some promising moments, but not enough to move the 49ers out of the top 10 of the NFL draft in either of the last two years. 

Because of that, NFL.com's Elliot Harrison ranked Shanahan 23rd out of the 26 returning NFL head coaches. 

This might not be a fair ranking for a guy who kept the 49ers competitive in the second half of the season while having to play musical chairs at quarterback," Harrison wrote. "The problem here is that Shanahan hasn't really accomplished anything yet as a head coach, which makes the criteria for evaluating his performance somewhat narrow."

To his credit, Shanahan coached up two rosters short on talent. The 49ers finished in the top half of the league in total offense in each of the last two seasons, despite Garoppolo only making eight starts. 

But the 49ers have not had the same success on defense, and heavily invested on that side of the ball over the offseason. The potential for improvement is there in 2019, but San Francisco enters the year having won fewer than a third of its games under Shanahan.

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"That [10-22] record isn't masked by the obvious upside of the roster, or the potential many see in Shanahan," Harrison continued. " ... Shanahan seems to be a good communicator, and is both confident and comfortable with himself. Whether that will translate into contention in the NFC West remains to be seen."

A 2019 turnaround should move Shanahan up Harrison's rankings. After his first two seasons coaching the 49ers, there isn't much room anywhere else. 

Jimmy Garoppolo calls learning from Tom Brady on Patriots 'invaluable'


Jimmy Garoppolo calls learning from Tom Brady on Patriots 'invaluable'

Jimmy Garoppolo spent three-and-a-half seasons as Tom Brady's backup quarterback in New England. Over that span, the 49ers' current QB appeared in only 17 games, starting two. 

Still, he learned plenty behind the six-time Super Bowl winner. 

More than anything, Garoppolo witnessed the immense amount of preparation Brady put into his game every day.  Garoppolo recently told The Ringer's Kevin Clark that it was "invaluable" to watch the legendary signal-caller as his backup.

"I can barely put it into words. What you learn is playing the game within the game, that’s a big part of Tom," Garoppolo said. "I don’t even know if he told me that [directly], but he would always talk about the game within the game." 

The story has been told time and time again. Brady beat the odds years ago as a sixth-round draft pick who ran the 40-yard dash in quicksand. Garoppolo emphasized that sweating the small stuff made Brady a Patriots legend and an all-time great. 

"The little details and how he ties them all together -- that’s what separates you," Garoppolo said. 

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The two QBs have remained friends after Garoppolo was traded to the 49ers on Halloween in 2017. They were even seen together at the Kentucky Derby this year.

As much knowledge as Garoppolo soaked up from Brady, the 49ers hope it shows in a healthy year this season.