The duel between C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens will take a while to play out, says 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.
While both quarterbacks will be examined in detail this week during the 49ers’ mandatory full-squad minicamp, Shanahan says the battle of the backups – the contest to see who will win the No. 2 job behind Jimmy Garoppolo – won’t be decided until just before the start of the regular season.
Shanahan told reporters Tuesday, on Day 1 of the minicamp, that Beathard and Mullens are "even" right now.
"It doesn’t really start until they get to training camp," Shanahan said. "They’ve both done a real good, both playing at a high level, so that’s been exciting."
Shanahan said a lot can change between now and the end of training camp and the exhibition schedule.
"Both have proven they can play in this league," Shanahan said, according to Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. "We’re going to have to make a tough decision at the end of the preseason which one we want to give the No. 2 job."
Mullens ended the 2018 season at No. 2, having stepped in for an injured Beathard, who had taken over for an injured Garoppolo. Mullens moved better in the pocket, had a quicker release and a better record as a starter last season (3-5 vs. 0-5). Beathard has shown a bigger arm and an admirable fortitude even in the face of terrific pressure.
In 2018, Mullens completed 64.2 percent of his throws for 2,277 yards and 13 touchdowns, while throwing 10 interceptions. His quarterback rating was 90.8. Beathard completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 1,252 yards and eight TDs, with seven interceptions. His QB rating was 81.8.
Beathard says he welcomes the competition because it will make him better. And, he says, it’s a friendly competition.
"Me and Nick are good friends off the field," said Beathard. "I think our whole (QB) room is just a really good group of guys in general and we’re all friends off the field. At the end of the day, you’re just out there playing football and doing the best you can do with your reps. … I think any time you have competition especially from guys that are in the room, good players, it makes you better. It really does."