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.”

NFLPA votes to recommend no preseason games for 49ers, 31 other teams

NFLPA votes to recommend no preseason games for 49ers, 31 other teams

Will we be seeing any 49ers preseason games in 2020?

The NFL Players' Association doesn't want to participate, as it voted unanimously to recommend there be no preseason games this season in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

As ESPN's Dan Graziano notes above, the NFL reportedly wants to cut the preseason in half by eliminating Weeks 1 and 4. If that ends up being the case, the 49ers will open the 2020 preseason against the Raiders at Levi's Stadium on Aug. 21.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Apprehension on the part of the players is understandable given the ongoing off-the-field issues playing out across the country. Cases of the novel coronavirus have spiked around the nation as states began reopening, with many opting to reverse course and pause the process, including in California.

There is palpable risk for anyone going back to work or traveling across state lines, especially with how many individual people are necessary to the operation of even a preseason NFL game, with or without fans.

[RELATED: NFL rumors: 49ers' Raheem Mostert requested pay raise this offseason]

However, players on the bubble of rosters benefit greatly from the opportunities afforded to them in preseason games, as starting lineups rarely get more than a quarter of action -- if that -- in three out of the four games.

Losing two preseason games or even four will be a detriment to those players fighting for roster spots, but clearly the health and safety of players, coaches and all the other staff involved in an NFL gameday should take precedent.

49ers' Kendrick Bourne 'likes' tweet about David Njoku trade rumors

49ers' Kendrick Bourne 'likes' tweet about David Njoku trade rumors

Kendrick Bourne just wants to see the 49ers offense be the best that it can be.

After NBC Sports Bay Area's Brian Witt published a story Friday arguing that San Francisco should make a trade and pair Njoku with All-Pro tight end George Kittle, Bourne was one of the hundreds who "liked" the tweet (screenshot H/T Brian Witt).

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Njoku requested a trade from the Cleveland Browns on Friday, his agent confirmed to ESPN's Adam Schefter. His frustration likely comes from Cleveland's decision to sign tight end Austin Hooper to what currently is the largest salary at the position (Kittle is expected to change that) and that the Browns selected a tight end in the fourth round of this year's NFL draft (Florida Atlantic's Harrison Bryant).

Njoku has one more season remaining on his initial rookie contract. Cleveland already has exercised his fifth-year option for 2021, when he'll make just over $6 million in base salary.

[RELATED: Tom Brady's Joe Montana, Jimmy Garoppolo connection made him 49ers villain]

Kittle's contract situation likely will keep the 49ers from making any major investments for the time being, as the tight end's new deal is expected to reset the free-agent market at the position.

The Browns' reported asking price of a first-round pick would make this a quick conversation for general manager John Lynch, who hasn't shown much willingness to part with any high draft picks in years past.

Nevertheless, fans will continue to clamor for anyone who can help make coach Kyle Shanahan's offense one of the NFL's best.