In the fourth quarter of the 49ers’ victory over the Giants last Sunday, quarterback C.J. Beathard hurt the thumb on his passing hand, irritating an injury he received a week earlier against the Cardinals.
Yet Beathard stayed in the game, played well down the stretch and led his team to a 31-21 victory that snapped a nine-game losing streak.
Now, as the 49ers get a week off because of a bye, Beathard’s thumb is expected to have enough time to heal to allow him to start in San Francisco’s next game on Nov. 26 against the Seahawks. It’s possible Jimmy Garoppolo – with an extra week to prepare – could move into the starting lineup, but Beathard took a big step forward against the Giants, and the 49ers appear likely to give him another start, at least, to allow Garoppolo to be fully familiar with the offense before making his team debut.
Beathard, a rookie, had his best day as a pro in his fourth start and fifth game, completing 19-of-25 passes for 288 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and an impressive quarterback rating of 123.4.
One of the reasons for his success was his ability to beat the Giants when they blitzed, which had been a big problem in his earlier outings, according to Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com.
Wagoner noted Beathard was 6-of-8 for 160 yards – including an 83-yard TD pass – when the Giants rushed five or more defenders. Beathard also ran for an 11-yard TD when New York sent extra pass rushers.
In previous games, Beathard had completed just 46 percent of his throws when facing additional pressure, was sacked seven times and had a QB rating of just 57.9.
Perhaps Beathard’s solid play vs. extra pressure will convince the Seahawks to back off throwing extra pressure at him. In his previous games, opponents had sent five or more rushers on 35 percent of Beathard’s dropbacks, wrote Wagoner, the second-highest rate in the NFL.
“We’ve gotten blitzed definitely more than I’ve ever had in my career,” head coach Kyle Shanahan told the media this week. “Most of it is run blitzes to try to stop your run and dare you to do some things. You have to make people pay, and that’s the only way to scare people out of stuff, and I think we’ve struggled to make people pay.”
Against the Giants, however, that changed. Now – if Beathard gets another start after the bye – 49ers fans will get a chance to see if he can build on that experience.