When the brain trust of the San Francisco 49ers -- head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch -- drafted QB C.J. Beathard in the third round of this year's NFL Draft, the move raised some eyebrows to say the least.
Most scouts and draft pundits have said the the 49ers reached by trading up from No. 109 overall to No. 104 overall to take Beathard, citing that 'he wasn’t projected to much more than a career backup quarterback.'
Shanahan saw something different and even told Peter King in his MMQB column that the rookie from Iowa was the only quarterback he wanted. Shanahan also eluded to the fact that he saw some of one of his former signal callers, Kirk Cousins, in the young man.
Even with all that, there wasn’t much hope of Beathard being anything more than the 49ers' third-string quarterback in 2017. Even though he was drafted in the third round, the last thing that Shanahan wants to do is rush the first-year player and overload him.
Beathard may not give his head coach much choice in the end. After two preseason games, he has compiled a QBR of 130.6 while completing 14-of-23 passes for 211 yards for 3 touchdowns. Oh and he has yet to throw an interception so far.
It’s the preseason of course and as most fans know the NFL is rife with tales of man who have played flawlessly over the summer only to never see that success carry over to the regular season. Beathard doesn’t appear to be one of the those men.
I believe that while it’s still quite early to make an accurate determination as to whether or not Beathard will be called on to make a start this season, the chance is certainly there. That would require him beating out projected second-team QB Matt Barkley, something I predict he will do once the preseason comes to an end.
If Beathard is to make one or more starts this season it will mean that one of two negative scenarios would be playing out.
1. QB Brian Hoyer gets hurt for an extended period or the season, requiring Beathard to step in and lead the team.
2. Hoyer is playing far below the expectations of the coaching staff, front office, and fans, and is outright replaced by the rookie.
Neither one of these possibilities are ideal for the team or for Beathard in his first season as an NFL player, unless he is truly ready to take on such a weight. Based on the short sample size of two-preseason games, it’s difficult to surmise if he is in fact ready for the responsibility.
I believe that if Beathard does make one or more starts in 2017 it would be considered a negative because of what would transpire to get him to that point. However it could end up being a very positive occurrence if he can produce at a high level.