Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann
The 49ers 2018 campaign has gotten off to a disastrous start to say the least. Out of the gate, the offense was unable to click, injuries were happening left and right, and the defense missed more tackles than a peewee football team. This season had a very rude way of taking the Niners and slamming them back to reality after the massive hype gained from the end of last season. It was a rude awakening that was just going to get worse come Week 3 in Kansas City.
The devastating, season-ending injury to Jimmy Garoppolo capped off what would be considered a disaster and the worst-case scenario that no one expected. After a rough start altogether, with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo, the Niners’ playoff hopes were quickly dwindling. Garoppolo being ruled out for the season with a torn ACL put the nail in the coffin for the mere chance that this team was playoff bound. With an injured and underwhelming defense, and an offense that just was not clicking, backup quarterback C.J. Beathard was the new man for the Niners the rest of the season.
The rest of this season is very important for the growth of C.J. Beathard. A second-year quarterback out of Iowa, Beathard was a must-have quarterback for Kyle Shanahan in the third round of the 2017 draft. Getting a chance to play a lot last year after the benching of Brian Hoyer, Beathard was battle-tested right away behind a bad offensive line and offensive weapons that had yet to thrive in Shanahan’s system. It was not a great season for Beathard, but how much of it can you blame him for? The difference between this season and last is that Beathard has the chance to show what he can do behind a much-improved offensive line, and an offense that is capable of putting up some points. This season may not be a playoff bound season for the Niners. In fact, it's not going to be.
We will have to wait until next year to see this team at full strength, with glaring holes addressed and more dynamic playmakers on offense. What we can look forward to is a lot of development not only from C.J. Beathard, but the young players on the offensive line, the running game, and the receiving corps. It's important for 2018 that young rookies on offense and defense get in as much work as possible before the front office constructs a roster for next year. In terms of offensive production, it's important that guys like George Kittle, Dante Pettis, Matt Breida, Richie James Jr., Mike McGlinchey and others, all get as much work in as possible so that they are more developed for a potential playoff run next season. Offensive and defensive rookies in the NFL rarely show their maximum potential in year one. There's a development process and year one is that crucial learning year. With C.J. Beathard, he already had that learning year last year. Year two is the year Beathard is supposed to take that next step as an NFL quarterback, and it could be very significant for this team if he does just that. His year-two development is crucial because not only does the rest of the offense depend on him, but we also need to see if he can become that solid backup quarterback he’s supposed to be. All of the offensive players listed above, all depend on C.J. Beathard. They depend on him, because they need him to play well, so they have a chance to show what they can do.
Beathard’s Week 4 start against the Chargers was good. There were a couple fluky interceptions, but other than that, he showed a lot of fight and looked solid out there. For the next twelve weeks, it's going to be very interesting to see how Beathard develops and what rapport he establishes with guys that maybe would not have had a chance under Jimmy Garoppolo. Looking ahead to next year, free agency, and the draft, it's important to find out what we got and what we need. The Niners need to see what potential these young players bring, and it's going to shape how they construct this team moving forward. With three quarters of the season left, we are going to see C.J. Beathard a lot more comfortable in Shanahan’s system, with a chance to help develop those around him, but also himself, as he becomes molded into an NFL quarterback.
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