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The Night Before: Can CJ Beathard Escape Garoppolos Shadow?

The 49ersHub group chat is legendary for the debates that we have on all sorts of topics. Whether its about Football, movies, TV, music or politics we have spent days, weeks, months and now years of our lives arguing with each other. Hell the topic for this week’s article was born out of our group chat, Evan, our resident hype man first posed the question to the group. What do we think C.J. Beathard’s numbers will look like at the end of the season?

Now the question was made with the assumption that Beathard will play the remaining 12 games on the schedule. Given the punishment he took against the Chargers and his general style of play there is no certainty that it will play that way but assuming it does I wanted to tackle the question of what our expectations should be about C.J. Beathard.

Obviously the first expectation we will have about Beathard centers around his superhuman toughness. We should expect C.J. to continue to exhibit the type of grit and perseverance that resembles the QB play that the league saw during the 80’s and 90’s. Fans should expect there to be a play or two during these next two games when you question whether or not Beathard will get up and furthermore you’ll question if C.J. sold his soul to Devil when he gets back up and continues to play.

The next expectation we should have of Beathard is his increased knowledge of the offense. This being his 2nd year in Shanahan’s offense means that he now has a significantly better understanding of the concepts that the team runs and how the plays are constructed to work off of each other. In the lead up to the Chargers’ game Shanahan was asked about C.J.’s knowledge of the scheme in year 2 with the organization,

“C.J. is very impressive. He was last year in terms of he’s very smart, he always knows the game plan inside and out, he works very hard, he is a thinker and he also is a reactor out there. Going through it the first time and stuff, it’s always slower no matter how hard you work at it. I think he went through the five games or whatever it was that he got to play for us last year, had some ups and downs and then I thought he got to sit back and watch Jimmy and watch someone else try to go through it. I think that helped him going into the offseason”.

A huge aspect of the development of a QB is when they begin to exhibit subtle nuances that display NFL level QB play. The two touchdown throws by Beathard are a great example of the development Beathard has made as a passer.

The first of the two plays shows one of Beathard’s biggest strengths as a QB, which is his ability to sell the play action. He does such a great job of holding the attention of defenders with the way he lowers his body and waits the last second before pulling the ball away and getting into his throwing motion. Where he has shown improvement from year 1 to year 2 is the placement of his throws. In his rookie he didn’t display the ability to make a tight window throw like the one he did to Kendrick Bourne for the touchdown. He had to throw it out of the reach of LB Kyle Emanuel and All-Pro CB Casey Hayward. Bourne made a really good catch but Beathard put the ball in the perfect position for him to make the play

On the 2nd play the growth in Beathard’s game is a little more subtle but just as impactful. Its easy to get lost in the way that George Kittle showcased his speed and athleticism but he would not have been to make the necessary move to score on the play had Beathard not diverted the attention of Chargers’ FS Jaleel Addae with his eyes. It’s obvious that that Kittle was Beathard’s primary read on the play but he didn’t fall into the trap that many young QBs make by zeroing in on Kittle which would have tipped off Addae and thus allowed him the opportunity to run up and make a play on the ball. By shifting his attention to Kendrick Bourne it forced Addae to move towards that side of field for support creating the huge piece of real estate that Beathard and Kittle took advantage of.

Our final expectation of Beathard should be that he is not going to be a clone of Jimmy Garoppolo. I know that sounds incredibly silly and I am sure that you the reader are laughing at the pervious sentence but it does need to be pointed that Beathard will not asked to carry the team the same way the Garoppolo has done during his time as the starter. The players, coaches and front office will not be able to lean on Beathard to hide the mistakes and weaknesses of those around him. Everyone is going to have to step up their collective games if they want any chance of having a successful season. Mistakes, errors and lapses in judgment will be amplified with Beathard under center and thats not a knock against C.J., very few QBs are able to elevate an entire team like that. So the protection issues, the lack of an EDGE pass rush, the inconsistency in the secondary and their inability to properly tackle will not swept under the rug; in fact it will probably only get worse as the season goes on unless these individual groups handle their own problems. Beathard has shown the ability “not to lose games”, it’s everyone else that needs to prove that they can hold their own weight and help win games.

Expectation is a funny word, it can either be a positive or a negative depending on the perspective of the person making the argument. Heading into the Chargers’ game the belief by many was that the 49ers would be sunk with Beathard under center. People expected that the play he exhibited as a rookie and during this past preseason would be the same that we got during the regular season, it was hard to believe that he can grow and develop under the tutelage of Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo. That the only positive trait that Beathard had in his arsenal was his toughness but now that we have seen him our expectations about him should change. We should expect a more mature and experienced QB that can efficiently and effectively run Kyle Shanahan’s offense while making throws that are NFL caliber. Look its not going to be pretty and it sure won’t be smooth but Beathard can help this team wins games as long as everyone around him will do their respective jobs and for a backup QB that going to be asked to start 13 games in a season that’s more than we could ask for.

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