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Beathard or bust is 49ers' motto at QB vs. Cardinals

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It took Jimmy Garoppolo more than a month after his midseason trade in 2017 to make his first scheduled appearance with the 49ers.

The 49ers have no reason at this late stage of the season to make an express delivery of newly added quarterback Josh Rosen to the playing field.

Coach Kyle Shanahan on Thursday stated the obvious: Rosen will only play in an extreme emergency.

C.J. Beathard will start his first game since Week 8 of the 2018 season. It’s Beathard or bust when the 49ers face the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

“I’m not taking C.J. out unless he can’t go because he’s injured,” Shanahan said.

Beathard is forced into action after injuries to Garoppolo (high ankle) and Nick Mullens (elbow).

Garoppolo returned to practice this week, but there is no plan to play him in the final two games of the season. Mullens faces a lengthy rehab after sustaining a severe elbow injury.

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Rosen entered the NFL as the No. 10 overall pick of the Cardinals in 2018. The 49ers are his fourth NFL team in three seasons.

He went from being on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad and No. 4 on the playoff-bound team’s depth chart to the temporary No. 2 quarterback behind Beathard.


The 49ers signed Rosen because the team’s emergency quarterback, Josh Johnson, was placed on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list.

Shanahan greatly downplayed any expectations for Rosen, who now has taken part in two practices with the 49ers and continues to work closely with quarterbacks coach Shane Day to learn enough of the offense to function, if pressed into service.

“We’re right now trying to get him to learn the offense,” Shanahan said. “He hasn't been in an offense like this. So from a terminology standpoint, it's a huge challenge for him.

"I'm not really looking at it physically right now. We know he's physically gifted, but I just want to see how much he can learn, so if God forbid something did happen to C.J. in the game, that he can come in and hand the ball off and when we do throw, know where those guys are and understand what the terminology is.”

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Shanahan said he would have an idea on Friday night what Rosen could handle — just in case there's a break-the-glass scenario.

“I'll probably have a pretty good idea from Shane and Josh what he's capable of doing, what he does understand, so if he does have to go in, I'll know what I can call for him,” Shanahan said.

If Johnson is cleared off the COVID-19 list next week, he would have a good chance to take over as the backup in Week 17 against the Seattle Seahawks because of his greater knowledge of the 49ers’ offense. Johnson has been with the 49ers since he was signed to the practice squad on Nov. 11.