LANDOVER, Md. -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 26-24 loss to Washington in Week 6 on Sunday:
1. Beathard takes over
Rookie C.J. Beathard replaced struggling Brian Hoyer in the second quarter. And, now, there is no reason to go backward. Beathard will get the remainder of the season to show what he can do.
When asked if Beathard showed enough to earn him the job as the permanent starter over Hoyer, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan answered, “Yes, he did.”
Beathard was not perfect. He completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards with one touchdown and one interception. But he brought a whole new attitude to the 49ers. Hoyer’s play did not inspire anybody. Beathard brings a much-needed spark to the 49ers with his competitiveness and toughness.
He helped rally the 49ers from a 17-point deficit in the second quarter to pull the 49ers even. Then, he nearly moved the 49ers into field-goal range before a controversial penalty complicated matters in the final minute of the game.
It is much too early to tell whether Beathard can be the 49ers’ quarterback of the future. But we know that Hoyer certainly is not that guy. Any chance of him finding a long-term home with his seventh NFL team in nine seasons is over.
2. A losing streak like none other
The 49ers became the first team in NFL history to lose five consecutive games by three points or less. Just like the four previous weeks, the 49ers had their chances. On Sunday, they again felt as if a bad call went against them at the most inopportune moment.
The 49ers moved the ball to the Washington 40 with :28 remaining. Shanahan said if the 49ers did not gain another yard, he would have sent out kicker Robbie Gould for a 58-yarder to win the game.
Instead, the 49ers never got that chance because veteran wide receiver Pierre Garçon was called for offensive pass interference for what was deemed an illegal pick play. Garçon was apoplectic as he pleaded his case with the officials. Shanahan was not pleased, either.
“I saw a slant route on a flat route and the guy guarding the flat route ran into a guy (Garçon),” Shanahan said.
When asked if a penalty flag for a pick can be thrown against the intended receiver, Shanahan said, “No. Absolutely not.”
The 49ers are finding a way to lose these close games, whether it's because of their league-high number of penalties, dropped passes, problems with the run game and a defense that has not buckled down in key moments.
And while it might be true that one questionable call is not enough to lose a game, the 49ers need that assistance because they have been unable to help themselves in those game-deciding moments over the past five weeks.
3. Moving on from Bowman
The 49ers’ defense got off to a slow start Sunday just two days after the release of four-time All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman. Washington moved briskly down the field for a game-opening touchdown drive.
But, then, the 49ers defense started to settle in. Reuben Foster was deemed not ready to return from a high ankle sprain. Brock Coyle and Ray-Ray Armstrong started and helped the 49ers limit Washington to 94 rushing yards on 33 attempts for a 2.8 average. But both struggled mightily in pass coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. Combined, they surrendered 11 catches on 12 targets for 213 yards and one TD.
Foster is expected to be back for next week’s game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium, and the 49ers can really begin the process of working with the players they expect to build around for the future.
A transition also appears to be happening at strong safety, where Jaquiski Tartt has put himself into position to take Eric Reid’s job. Reid was back in uniform after missing three games with a knee injury. But Tartt started, and Reid was used only as a sixth defensive back in passing situations.