No. 5: Can C.J. Beathard win the backup quarterback job?
When the 49ers drafted C.J. Beathard out of Iowa in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, quite a few eyebrows were raised. Beathard had shown up on very few mock drafts, and not one draft pundit had the 49ers selecting him at all.
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However, head coach Kyle Shanahan saw characteristics in Beathard that you really cannot teach.
Shanahan said as much recently, telling CSN Bay Area, “He really works at it. He has a question for everything. He wants to know what you want him to do, but he also wants to know why… that’s, to me, what allows him to have a chance to be good right away because he prepares the right way.”
Beathard has put together some solid practices after a shaky start to training camp. He has been taking second-team snaps along with four-year veteran Matt Barkley, and the competition is very close.
49er beat writer Matt Maiocco even tweeted out this observation:
If Beathard continues to progress and Barkley doesn’t seize the backup role, there is the possibility, however rare, that Beathard could leapfrog Barkley. Even if Beathard plays well enough to unseat him, the 49ers coaching staff may feel more comfortable having the veteran as the immediate backup to a quarterback in Hoyer who has some injury concerns.
However, if Beathard beats out Barkley, it could afford the 49ers the option of using that extra roster spot elsewhere to fortify another position without carrying a third QB.
Beathard has certainly given them something to think about with his solid play thus far. It should be interesting to watch this play out during the preseason games.