C.J. Beathard’s number has just been called.
With starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo out – possibly for the season with an expected torn knee ligament – the 1-2 49ers will turn to the second-year backup quarterback from Iowa for Sunday’s game in Carson against the Chargers. He may have to take the reins of the offense for the dozen games that follow, too.
Garoppolo was the one player the 49ers couldn’t afford to lose this season, and they lost him Sunday in a defeat to the Chiefs in Kansas City.
After Sunday’s game, when Beathard visited Garoppolo in the training room, Garoppolo’s message to Beathard was simple.
“He told me to lead these guys,” Beathard told Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com.
Though Beathard has appeared in just eight regular-season games in his NFL career, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has faith in him. Beathard is athletic with a strong arm and a grasp of the offense. Last season he started five games (going 1-4) for a team with a decimated wide receiver group and a shaky offensive line. He completed 54 percent of his throws for four touchdowns and six interceptions and a quarterback rating of 69.2.
On Sunday, Shanahan said the 49ers plan to stick with Beathard and bring in a backup for him. They won’t go out to find a starting quarterback, but will let Beathard do the job.
When Beathard entered for Garoppolo Sunday, he immediately threw a pass caught for a touchdown, but it was nullified by a penalty away from the ball.
“I have a lot of confidence in C.J.,” Shanahan told reporters. “He came in today, made a hell of a throw on that fourth down. No hesitation. C.J. is a gamer. Everyone in here has a ton of respect for C.J., how he handles himself. He’s a man out there and he’s a very good quarterback and we’re fortunate to have him.”
Niners tight end George Kittle, who played with Beathard at Iowa, also gave him a vote of confidence.
“I’m not worried at all about C.J.,” he told Wagoner. “He’s a hell of a quarterback. He knows how to win. … He’s going to step right in and he’s going to do just fine.”
Nick Mullens likely will be promoted from the practice squad as the No. 2 quarterback for the time being, with the possiblilty of signing a veteran QB, too.
Beathard, for one, says he’s ready.
“It’s my second time around,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle, referring to his time starting as a rookie. “I think it will be a little easier this time.”
Kickoff for the 49ers-Chargers game this Sunday is set for 1:25 p.m.