For the first time in several years the 49ers head into training camp with no mystery as to the identity of the quarterbacks who will be on the 53-man roster. Barring any huge surprises, the 49ers will have two quarterbacks on the active roster and one on the practice squad. Here is a look at who will be the breakout player, the position battles, and who is on the roster bubble as camp gets under way.
The Breakout Player:
While it would be easy to say that if, a guy wins five consecutive games and parlays that in to a five year contract worth $137.5 million, he has already broken out but that would be short-sighted. The 2018 season marks the first time in his career that Jimmy Garoppolo will go into training camp as the starter and will get to work exclusively with the first team offense. Garoppolo got a crash course in Kyle Shanahan’s complex offense almost immediately upon being traded to the 49ers; even though he was able to learn the Xs and Os well enough to amass a 96.2 quarterback rating, training camp will give him a chance to learn the “why’s” of the offense. Early in the 49ers off-season program Garoppolo has had some mixed results but that is just fine with his head coach. Being able to gain a deeper understanding of the offense and learn from his mistakes in training camp should allow Garoppolo to build on the solid foundation he established in 2017.
C.J. Beathard earned the 49ers’ one victory in 2017 B.G. (before Garoppolo); he also earned his teammates’ respect by showing toughness and the ability to play through pain. The number two spot on depth chart is Beathard’s, and the fact that the front office did not bring anyone in that will really challenge him shows that he has earned their respect too. Beathard’s growth from year one to year two will be an item to keep an eye on as training camp and the pre-season moves forward. In the Organized Team Activity (OTA) portion of the off-season schedule, Beathard made several highlight throws in the sessions open to the media. The only battle in this position group will be for a spot on the practice squad.
Second-year man Nick Mullens will battle undrafted free agent Jack Heneghan for the third quarterback spot. Mullens lacks the ideal size and arm strength, but is a natural thrower of the football and throws with anticipation, which are traits that Shanahan looks for in a quarterback. Heneghan completed over 60% of his passes his senior year and has the prototypical size of an NFL quarterback -- 6’4”, 230 pounds -- and has the intelligence to pick up Shanahan’s offense (Heneghan graduated with a degree in Economics from Dartmouth). The battle for the third quarterback spot will likely be of interest only to the most die-hard of fans. Either way, the 49ers Hub team will have you covered.
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