49ers

C.J. Beathard, Nick Mullens start offseason even for 49ers' No. 2 QB job

C.J. Beathard, Nick Mullens start offseason even for 49ers' No. 2 QB job

PHOENIX — Coach Kyle Shanahan knows Jimmy Garoppolo is the quarterback atop the 49ers’ depth chart.

After that, it’s a coin flip — literally.

“We’ll rotate C.J. (Beathard) and Nick (Mullens) with the twos,” Shanahan said at the NFL owners meeting.

Shanahan said he does not consider either reserve in the lead to serve as Garoppolo’s backup this season. In fact, he said he is prepared to dole out the initial practice snaps of the offseason program in random order.

“(We’ll) flip a coin the first day,” Shanahan said.

The 49ers have kept two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster the past two seasons under Shanahan. But they could be tempted to keep all three around this season.

Statistically, Mullens out-produced Beathard last season, as the 49ers won three of his eight starts to finish the season. The 49ers were winless in the five games Beathard started.

Mullens completed 176 of 274 pass attempts (64.2 percent), averaged 8.3 yards per pass attempt, and threw 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a 90.9 passer rating. He also was sacked once every 17.1 dropbacks.

“Nick kind of came out of nowhere this year from being on the practice squad to being a starter for us as long as he was,” Shanahan said. “(I) never went into the year expecting that because you don’t go into the year expecting guys to get hurt. But Nick got his opportunity and he didn’t let it go back. We’re real excited with him, proud of how he played.”

Garoppolo sustained a season-ending ACL tear in Week 3 against Kansas City. Beathard took over and started until a thumb injury and other bumps and bruises forced him out of the lineup in Week 9 against the Raiders.

Beathard completed 102 of 169 attempts (60.4 percent), averaged 7.4 yards per attempt, and threw eight touchdowns and seven interceptions for a passer rating of 81.8. He was sacked once every 10.4 dropbacks.

Beathard was chosen late in the third round of the 2017 draft, while Mullens hooked on with the 49ers that same year as an undrafted rookie.

“I think you got two guys that have proven that they could definitely be backups in this league and they have shown that they are capable at times of playing like a starter,” Shanahan said. “Neither of them are finished products. I think both can still continue to get a lot better.”

Through eight starts, Mullens ranks fourth all-time with 2,277 passing yards – behind only Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton. In Mullens’ first start, he threw for 262 yards with a near-perfect 151.9 rating against the Raiders.

[RELATED: Shanahan enlisted dad to talk football with Jimmy G]

“When CJ took a step back, he was pretty beat up,” Shanahan said. “He went into that San Diego game, they had a very good pass rush. I think we lost three O-linemen in that game. We lost our receivers in that game and he played at a very high level versus the Chargers.

“But he got banged up a lot in that game. He had a few setbacks in practice but his body never really recovered and then we sat him for the Oakland game because he was hurt the most. I think his body healed up. It’s something he needed to do and it would have been nice for him to get back in after a few weeks, but Nick was playing too well.”

Ex-49ers linebacker Reuben Foster carted off field after suffering leg injury

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USATSI

Ex-49ers linebacker Reuben Foster carted off field after suffering leg injury

Organized team activities began Monday for NFL teams, and Washington suffered a loss shortly after the opening of camp.

Former 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster went down during the second play of OTAs with what appeared to be a serious left leg injury. He was on the ground for several minutes before being carted off while in tears.

After an receiving an MRI, Foster's injury appears to be very serious.

That's a brutal development for Foster and Washington.

[RELATED: 49ers have important competitions beginning during OTAs]

Foster was drafted by the 49ers with the No. 31 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, which was the beginning of a tumultuous time in the Bay Area.

The Alabama product was arrested three times and suffered multiple on-field injuries during his time with the 49ers. San Francisco cut ties with Foster last November after he was accused of committing domestic battery at a team hotel in Florida.

Washington claimed the linebacker off waivers a few days later. Foster recorded  84 solo tackles in his 16-game career with the 49ers.

The 49ers have since revamped their linebacking corps after Foster's departure. They signed Kwon Alexander to a four-year contract in the offseason and spent a fifth-round draft pick on Arkansas' Dre Greenlaw.

Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch hope Alexander, once he gets fully healthy, and Greenlaw can fill the role left by Foster's departure in the middle of the defense.

These important competitions begin this week for 49ers during OTAs

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AP

These important competitions begin this week for 49ers during OTAs

Organized team activities are all about the passing games – offense and defense.

Those areas are where the most important competitions will take place on the practice field as the 49ers slowly start to prepare for their season opener on Sept. 8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Full pads are not allowed to be worn in practices during the offseason program, so the real competitions begin the third day of training camp, which opens in late-July. That's when practices change from two-hand-touch to real football.

This week marks the first time since the end of last season that offense vs. defense competition is allowed to take place on the 49ers’ practice field. Although 9-on-7 run drills are permitted, it’s the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills where reasonable opinions can start to be formed.

Here are the positions where players have a chance to take leads in their competitions heading into training camp:

Quarterback

The 49ers will take it slowly with Jimmy Garoppolo, who faces no challenge for the starting job. Garoppolo is not expected to see any 11-on-11 practice snaps until training camp.

The competition will be for the backup job.

Nick Mullens produced better statistics last season in his eight starts, during which the 49ers went 3-5 (winning 75 percent of their games for the season). But the 49ers have not given up on C.J. Beathard, a third-round draft pick in 2017.

Beathard’s skillset and toughness keep him in this competition. Mullens has his limitations, but he performed at an exceptionally high level when given his opportunity last year. Only Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton threw for more yards in their first eight NFL starts.

But all that means is that Mullens, now, will be given a fair shot to win the backup job. He and Beathard start this offseason on equal footing.

Running back

Jerick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman likely will be expected to share the load at running back with Matt Breida not far behind. Breida proved to be a reliable pass-catcher last season. He still needs work with his route running, and this is a great time for him to polish those skills.

Coleman has experience in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. That's a huge advantage. There is no hurry to get McKinnon on the field after he missed all of last season with a torn ACL he sustained a week before the start of the regular season.

Wide receiver

There should be competition at every level of the team at this position. Dante Pettis is the closest thing to a “lock” to be a starter. He caught just 27 passes in 12 games as a rookie, but he averaged 17.3 yards and had five touchdowns.

Rookie Deebo Samuel, the 49ers’ second-round draft pick, will compete against the field, including Kendrick Bourne, for the duties on the other side. Bourne was the 49ers’ leading wide receiver last season with 42 receptions for 487 yards and four touchdowns.

Marquise Goodwin, Jordan Matthews and rookie Jalen Hurd will be angling for significant roles, while Trent Taylor and Richie James are the candidates for the primary slot job.

Cornerback

The offseason program is huge for Ahkello Witherspoon and Tarvarius Moore. There is no questioning the physical talent of both players. They were third-round draft picks in 2017 and ’18, respectively.

Witherspoon vs. Moore could be an elimination battle during the offseason program to see which of those players will go against Jason Verrett in training camp.

Verrett is coming back from a torn Achilles, which he sustained during the camp-opening conditioning test last summer with the Los Angeles Chargers. Verrett is not expected to cut it loose during the offseason program, so Witherspoon and Moore will have the advantage of a full offseason of preparation.

Safety

Jimmie Ward has bounced around from free safety to cornerback over the past few years. He is back at free safety after signing a one-year contract with the club in the offseason. Adrian Colbert entered last offseason as the starter at free safety, but now the onus is on him to beat out Ward.

The free safety position is more on display during non-padded practices than strong safety, because so much of being a box safety is coming up to finish tackles in the run game. Jaquiski Tartt and second-year player Marcell Harris will compete for that job. Pass coverage is important there, too, but that job will be won after the pads go on.

[RELATED: 49ers Mailbag . . . Should contracts for Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel be a concern?]

The rules during Phase Three allow for players to be at the facility for six hours a day for a maximum of three organized team activities during the first and second weeks. No pads are allowed, except for protective knee and elbow pads. Helmets are permitted.

49ers OTA workouts
This week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday
May 28-29, May 31
June 3-4, June 6

Mandatory minicamp
June 11-13