Chances are, C.J. Beathard won’t be the starter at quarterback this Sunday when the 49ers take on the Bears in Chicago.
Jimmy Garoppolo took over for Beathard after the rookie took a hit to his leg late in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks and threw a touchdown pass as time ran out. With several weeks of practice and study now, the former Patriot seems poised to become the starter with five games remaining as an audition for 2018.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game that he’s not going to make a decision until later in the week, but this certainly seems like the right time.
Especially because Beathard could use a break.
The first-year passer from Iowa was thrown into the starting role when veteran Brian Hoyer couldn’t produce, and he’s had to learn under fire. With leaky pass protection, a suspect corps of wide receivers and defenses eager to come after him, Beathard has had to try to carry an offense with few tools. And, while he is destined to take a back seat to Garoppolo, Shanahan and the 49ers have become believers that Beathard has the ability and toughness to make it in the NFL.
In seven games this season, Beathard has completed 54.9 percent of his throws for 1,430 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions with a quarterback rating of 69.2 while also being sacked 19 times. Against the Seahawks he was sacked three times and hit 13 times, another rough day.
In just over a minute at the end of the game, Garoppolo was 2-for-2 passing for 18 yards and a TD, while also scrambling once for 4 yards.
Even in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks, Beathard’s numbers weren’t all that strong, yet the analytic website Pro Football Focus gave him kudos for what he was able to do.
“As the Jimmy Garoppolo era nears closer for San Francisco, current starter C.J. Beathard played a relatively efficient game going against a defense that is superior in most areas matching up,” wrote PFF. “He was under pressure often, going 8-for-17 for only 63 yards opposed to 14-of-21 for 138 yards when given time in the pocket. Facing an elite front seven, the 49ers struggled in protection as Beathard was hurried on 16 occasions.”
Beathard will be examined Monday to determine if his injury is serious, but the 1-10 49ers believe he received just a bruise, and that he’ll be healthy for the Bears. One thing Shanahan knows is Beathard will be ready to get back on the field if he can.
“If he can’t get up it’s because something is wrong,” Shanahan said, of Beathard’s departure from the game Sunday. “(I’ve) got a lot of respect for how he plays. He has hung in there and he’s gotten better for us each week. Hoping it’s not as bad as it looked. I hope he’s better than it seems tomorrow.”
The 49ers are scheduled to face the Bears in Chicago Sunday at 10 a.m. in the Bay Area.