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.”

Watch young Broncos fan almost walk off with Jimmy Garoppolo's helmet

Watch young Broncos fan almost walk off with Jimmy Garoppolo's helmet

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will always make time for his fans.

Heck, he'll even make time for opposing fans. Just don't steal his helmet -- it doesn't matter how cute you are.

During the 49ers-Denver Broncos joint practice on Saturday, Jimmy G ran up to some fans and started signing autographs. Including a young Broncos-shirt wearing kid. The quarterback asked him to hold his helmet for a bit so he could sign, and the youngin' almost ran off with it before Garoppolo asked for it back:

"I need that back, though," Garoppolo laughed.

All in good fun.

[RELATED: Lynch confident Garoppolo will have successful return]

But the man's got to keep that helmet.

It would have been fun to watch him try and run off with it though.

Richard Sherman, 49ers defense 'light years ahead' of last season

Richard Sherman, 49ers defense 'light years ahead' of last season

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The day after Richard Sherman praised both teams for their lack of physical conflict, the re-energized 49ers defense got under the skin of the Broncos and the result was a sideline-clearing skirmish.

“If it’s clean like it was today, two teams just competing, getting after it and perfecting their craft against guys who are different, not all the fights and excess then it’s fine,” Sherman said after the first joint practice in Colorado on Friday,

Unfortunately, it got a little chippy between the 49ers' defense and the Broncos' offense during the second day of team drills.

There was pretty big hit by the 49ers defense that resulted in a tackle for a loss and tempers started to flare. The ensuing play was an incomplete pass from Drew Lock to rookie tight end Troy Fumagalli. Marcell Harris went flying across the field as a result of an apparent blind side shove and both groups tussled on the field for over 30 seconds.

Two Broncos players, receiver Brendan Langley and tight end Bug Howard were ejected from practice. Coach Kyle Shanahan said he didn’t see the melee but like anything else, he will watch the film to make sure his players were not the instigators.

“Yeah, they got into a little scuffle over there,” Shanahan said. “I actually wasn’t on the field, so I didn’t see much of it. By the time I got over there, it was pretty much broken up. I know a couple guys got sent in. I was told none of our guys threw punches, so when I see the tape, we’ll see if they were telling the truth. Hopefully, they were.”

While the 49ers' defense may not have started the fight, they decidedly are more confident this season.

“It’s light years ahead of last year,” Sherman said. “I think it’s just young guys being veterans this year. I think the experience that a lot of guys playing a lot of downs last year gave them the confidence they needed to take the next steps.

“That’s why you see our twos and threes way ahead of where they were last year and our ones light years ahead of where they were, especially with the talent. Even when you’re missing Dee Ford and [Nick] Bosa right now, we’re still making plays, we’re getting the rush, we still have the intensity."

Sherman also noted how the addition of Kwon Alexander’s high level of energy has affected second-year linebacker Fred Warner in a positive way.

“It’s huge,” Sherman said. “You see it because they are tone setters. They’re in the middle they are just about on every tackle. They can feel every pass play every run play and when they’re bringing energy I think it emulates throughout the defense. The D-line feels it, the secondary feels it. Their intensity can change the day.”

[RELATED: Why Lynch is confident Jimmy G will have successful return]

When asked who started the fight, Sherman smiled.

"Good question. We'll just say them. It was them."