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Shanahan wants to keep three quarterbacks, but 49ers have no need for Barkley

SANTA CLARA–Victor Bolden made his case. Asa Jackson made his. Matt Barkley didn’t get the chance.

The 49ers can keep an extra wide receiver. They might be able to use an additional cornerback. They don’t need a third quarterback.

On Thursday night, players on the back half of the 49ers’ 90-man roster were able to make their closing statements in their case for a spot on San Francisco’s final 53-man roster. But Barkley was not one of those players.

First-year head coach Kyle Shanahan offered rookie C.J. Beathard the opportunity to start the first half as the 49ers’ quarterback, while undrafted free agent Nick Mullens took snaps during the second half of the contest. Barkley remained on the sidelines.

“I sat Matt down after the Minnesota game,” Shanahan said. “We know what Matt can do, we’ve seen Matt a lot. We’ve seen him in this league before, we’ve seen him in practice. There was nothing Matt could have done in that game to change our feeling on him. I needed to see more of C.J.”

In his fourth NFL season, Barkley has played in 11 regular season games, and also participated in his fair share of preseason contests. The 49ers know what he has to offer. And after a full preseason, they know what Beathard can give the team as well.

With Brian Hoyer slated as San Francisco’s starter, is there a need for San Francisco to keep both Beathard and Barkley on the 53-man roster? Shanahan said he’d prefer that.

“A lot of this stuff is going to go into play,” Shanahan said. “I would love to keep three quarterbacks, that’s going to be a hard debate. Not about the quarterback position, but about how we look at the rest of the roster.”

After Thursday’s victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, Shanahan announced that the 49ers had chosen their backup quarterback, but that he wasn’t ready to make the depth chart public.

If the 49ers chose Barkley, they’ll be forced to keep three quarterbacks, as they’re not prepared to cut Beathard and allow another NFL team to scoop up their third round draft choice. If the 49ers chose Barkley, though, they made the wrong choice.

Beathard is clearly talented enough to serve as Hoyer’s backup, and he’s already proven he possesses a much higher ceiling than Barkely in the professional ranks. With Beathard, there’s plenty of room to grow. With Barkley, there’s not much left to be excited about.

On Thursday, Bolden took a punt back for a touchdown. Though he may not be an NFL-caliber wide receiver, he can clearly help the 49ers as a return man. He’s electric.

Jackson, meanwhile, snagged two interceptions. A late arrival to 49ers’ training camp, Jackson asserted himself as a ball hawk who might be able to slot in as a fifth cornerback. Either way, the 49ers might need to free up a roster spot. If they were considering keeping Barkley before, there’s no need anymore.

Shanahan is an offensive-minded coach with the final say over which players make the 53-man roster. He wants three quarterbacks, and if he so desires, he can keep three quarterbacks. But that’s the old Shanahan talking. That’s his offensive coordinator background getting in the way.

If Shanahan is forward thinking and building out his whole roster, he’ll know there’s only a need for two. It’s Brian Hoyer, then C.J. Beathard. That’s all he needs.


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