The San Francisco 49ers used a third round pick to nab former Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard in the NFL Draft. Was this a wasted pick or a sign of genius from head coach Kyle Shanahan?
C.J. Beathard is your newest San Francisco 49ers quarterback.
The Niners moved up to pick No. 104 in the third round to grab the former Iowa signal-caller. And it’s not likely many 49ers fans viewed Beathard as a must-have prospect on draft day.
Had Beathard fallen into Rounds 4 or 5, the selection might have made a bit more sense. But in Round 3, especially involving a trade up, was this little more than a wasted selection?
“I think he does his job very well. I think he gives his team a very good chance to win.” — Kyle Shanahan on C.J. Beathard
It’s a good question.
The 2017 NFL Draft didn’t exactly provide a lot of plug-and-play options at quarterback. And the 49ers didn’t bite too early, despite their need for a franchise QB.
Still, the move might have been somewhat of a reach. CBS Sports ranked Beathard as a sixth-round prospect. Had that projection stayed put, San Francisco reached.
CBS Sports’ Sean Wagner-McGough wrote, “It’s worth wondering why the 49ers felt like they had to trade up to get him when other — and arguably better — developmental prospects like [Nathan] Peterman were still available.”
Yet NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco explained head coach Kyle Shanahan’s rationale in making the move:
So is it a reach or a steal?
Inconclusive Numbers for C.J. Beathard
2015 was, without doubt, Beathard’s best season at the collegiate level. He managed a 61.6 completion percentage and threw for over 2,800 yards with 17 touchdowns against five interceptions.
But the quarterback’s 2016 campaign wasn’t anything near the production from the previous year, largely due to a lack of talent and simplification of Iowa’s offense:
Even NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein viewed Beathard as a career backup.
Was this the kind of quarterback the 49ers wanted to draft, especially when the team already had a backup in Matt Barkley? Surely the third-round pick could have been used to address one of the many other needs San Francisco had.
San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Shanahan’s Genius Pick?
General manager John Lynch might have been making the final call, but this selection had Shanahan’s name all over it.
In fact, Niners Wire’s Chris Biderman pointed out Lynch gave Shanahan “autonomy in choosing his quarterback” this draft.
And Shanahan later noted, via Biderman:
"I just saw him battle through adversity. You look at the numbers and they weren’t the same as the previous year. But numbers are something I very rarely look at. …You go through an entire game, and how good does he do his job? I think he does his job very well. I think he gives his team a very good chance to win. I think he showed that a lot more in 2015 when his team had a lot more opportunities to win."
Former, and now-49ers, teammate George Kittle — a tight end who spent five seasons with Beathard at Iowa — even offered up his own take, via the Niners website:
"I was blessed to be with C.J. since freshman year and he’s just a guy that, he loves football more than anything, other than maybe his daughter. But, he lives and breathes it. It’s all he cares about. And he is a genius in the film room and on the football field.He knows absolutely everything that everybody’s gonna do. And I think my favorite thing about C.J. is just how much his love and emotion brings everyone else around. He’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around."
The Shanahan influence is what matters here. And KNBR 680’s Kevin Jones offered up a unique insight on why San Francisco’s new head coach’s previous experience with the Washington Redskins led to this decision.
It’s worth the read and adds a unique perspective.
A Polarizing Pick
Needless to say, there’s a mixed bag of opinions whether or not Beathard was worth a third-round selection. Or even a 49ers pick at all.
Here are some of the initial reactions:
CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco gave the selection a C-grade and wrote, “I would have taken Nathan Peterman here, but they need a developmental guy so I get it.”
And that’s probably where we stand right now.
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Beathard is a developmental prospect and nothing more. Sure, he has the potential to develop into something special. Any quarterback does. Just the chances of that happening seem to lessen with each subsequent round.
The likelihood seems as if Beathard winds up being a good backup, nothing more.
If that’s what the 49ers wanted at this point in the draft, fine. And it’s OK if they felt the gamble was worth the move.
It’s still just hard to buy this was a solid selection.