It didn’t take long for the winless, rebuilding San Francisco 49ers to decide that they’d seen enough of veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer at the quarterback position. In a Week 6 loss to the Washington Redskins, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan benched Hoyer in favor of rookie third-round pick C.J. Beathard.
And while Beathard looked like a third-round rookie taking his first regular-season NFL snaps, he apparently did enough to earn a chance to make his first NFL start this week against the Dallas Cowboys.
“He’s got the ability to do it. I think he’s got the mental toughness to do it,” Shanahan said after the Iowa product completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards, one touchdown and one interception in another close loss, per the Bay Area News Group. “I think he will get better the more he plays.”
From the time Beathard relieved Hoyer, the 49ers outscored the Redskins 24-12. That’s a good sign, and the reaction from Shanahan is an indication he isn’t going anywhere.
— NFL Today (@NFL_Today365) October 15, 2017
So who is C.J. Beathard? It seems he’s relatively unknown to a lot of NFL fans, even those who paid close attention to the 2017 draft. His name didn’t dominate pre-draft hype like Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes II, Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, Davis Webb or even quarterbacks who were drafted later than him. I’d imagine more fans were familiar with fourth-rounder Josh Dobbs, fifth-rounder Nathan Peterman, sixth-rounder Brad Kaaya and seventh-rounder Chad Kelly than with Beathard.
So here’s your introduction, in FAQ form.
How do you pronounce his name? See-Jay.
No, wiseguy, his last name! Oh, beh-third.
What did he do in college? He majored in something called — and I’m serious — “leisure studies.” Oh, and he led the Hawkeyes to the Rose Bowl in 2015. He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors that year and followed that up with a less-glorious-but-still-strong senior campaign in 2016. This is a video of him doing good football things in 2015:
Why did he struggle in 2016? His receiving corps was decimated by injuries and he himself was dealing with a knee injury suffered prior to the season. But it’s also possible opposing defenses saw tape from his breakout junior campaign and adjusted. If it’s more the latter than the former, he could be in trouble.
Why was he a third-round pick? Coming from a pro-style system in a strong conference, he appears to have the footwork, the mechanics and the arm necessary to become a solid NFL quarterback. He has also excelled at throwing on the run.
How’d he fare in the preseason? Pretty damn well. The 23-year-old completed 26 of 45 passes for 401 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. That was good for a 107.7 passer rating, albeit mainly against backups.
Does he have strong country music roots? Glad that oddly specific question was asked, because his father Casey is a country music songwriter who has written top-10 singles for Gary Allan, Billy Ray Cyrus, Trace Adkins, Kenny Chesney and Eric Church. His brother Tucker is a singer, and this is a video of him singing:
What about his football roots? Well, his grandfather is renowned former NFL talent evaluator Bobby Beathard, who was a longtime general manager in Washington and San Diego.
Who does he remind people of? Formerly, Sunshine from Remember the Titans. But he cut his hair and it’s hard to compare non-fictional football players to fictional football players. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein went with Tom Savage, which is a little odd because Savage is bigger and less mobile. But I can see it strictly from a passing standpoint.