49ers coach still has con­fi­dence in Beathard

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Chris Bi­der­man

SANTA CLARA — Kyle Shana­han says he hasn’t lost faith in C.J. Beathard de­spite his re­cent de­mo­tion from starter to backup be­hind third­string quar­ter­back Nick Mul­lens.

“C.J.’s story is not over and he has the abil­ity, he has the tough­ness, he has the mind, to be a very suc­cess­ful quar­ter­back in this league,” the San Fran­cisco 49ers coach said. “Don’t let other peo­ple tell you it’s over be­cause it hasn’t gone the way you wanted it.”

Beathard, of course, was de­moted last sea­son in fa­vor of Jimmy Garop­polo af­ter he suf­fered a knee in­jury dur­ing a Novem­ber loss to the Seat­tle Sea­hawks. He was dropped from starter to No. 2 last week when he suf­fered a right wrist in­jury in an 18-15 road loss to the Ari­zona Car­di­nals.

Mul­lens had one of the best sta­tis­ti­cal per­for­mances in his­tory against the lowly Raiders, join­ing Frank Tarken­ton (1961) and Jim Kelly (1986) as the only quar­ter­backs in league his­tory with at least 250 pass­ing yards, three touch­downs and zero in­ter­cep­tions in their start­ing debuts.

The 49ers went 0-5 in Beathard’s starts this sea­son, drop­ping the Iowa alum’s ca­reer record to 1-9. He’s thrown 12 touch­downs and 13 in­ter­cep­tions for a less-than-stel­lar 74.6 passer rat­ing since he was se­lected in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft.

Shana­han’s faith in the sec­ond-year pro ex­ists be­cause he has seen an­other quar­ter­back turn things around be­fore: Kirk Cousins.

Cousins be­gan his pro ca­reer 2-7 as the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins’ starter and was widely panned be­fore piec­ing to­gether three con­sec­u­tive 4,000-yard sea­sons. It led to sign­ing the NFL’s first fully-guar­an­teed $84 mil­lion con­tract this off­sea­son with the Min­nesota Vik­ings.

“It doesn’t mean that he’s him,” Shana­han said of com­par­ing Beathard to Cousins. “But I also know that a lot of peo­ple gave up on Kirk be­cause of how he started and ev­ery­one wanted to put it on one guy when it was a lot more than just that.

“C.J. needs to im­prove, needs to get bet­ter . ... (He) has the men­tal tough­ness to get through that and even­tu­ally, some­day, I don’t know when, he will get his op­por­tu­nity. Hope­fully he’ll heal up, get fresher and learn from what he did good and what he did bad.”

Beathard showed signs of improve­ment when he took over fol­low­ing Garop­polo’s sea­so­nend­ing knee in­jury Sept. 23 in Kansas City.

Beathard threw for 298 yards against the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers, then fol­lowed it up with a ca­reer-best 349 yards in the first game this sea­son against the Car­di­nals. But the 49ers dropped both games while Beathard ac­counted for four in­ter­cep­tions and a lost fum­ble — and then came up short against the Green Bay Pack­ers be­cause Beathard tossed a late-game pick, thwart­ing San Fran­cisco’s chance at a go-ahead field goal.

Un­for­tu­nately for Beathard, get­ting de­moted is a fa­mil­iar feel­ing. But he knows how to han­dle it af­ter los­ing the start­ing job to Garop­polo al­most ex­actly a year ago.

“It’s some­thing that’s go­ing to make me stronger in the end, I feel like,” Beathard said. “I think God’s test­ing me and I think it’s all go­ing to make me stronger in the end, make me a bet­ter per­son, make me a bet­ter quar­ter­back, a bet­ter player in the long run.”

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