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The underrated importance of Kyle Shanahan’s ‘love’ for C.J. Beathard as a quarterback

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was adamant on the Tolbert and Lund show Wednesday that he doesn’t want to make a quick decision on playing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Shanahan’s reasoning is Garoppolo isn’t ready and might not be for the rest of the season.

Also, if the offense continues to move with C.J. Beathard, Shanahan doesn’t want to take him out in order to “experiment” with Garoppolo, particularly if the team is winning. Shanahan said creating a culture of winning separates teams in the NFL because the talent is so even throughout the league.

And then there’s this: Beathard is Shanahan’s quarterback. Shanahan drafted him and developed him. Garoppolo isn’t. He’s more general manager John Lynch’s quarterback, who made the deal with New England by trading a second-round pick for him.

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King confirmed this during an appearance Tuesday on Tolbert and Lund. King was invited into the 49ers’ draft room by Lynch and Shanahan when the 49ers took Beathard out of Iowa during last spring’s draft.

“I remember being in that draft room when they ended up drafting C.J. Beathard,” King said (his comments begin at the 13:45 mark of the interview). “And this guy (Shanahan) really loves C.J. Beathard, absolutely totally loves C.J. Beathard.”

Shanahan’s ego was also bruised when his hand-picked quarterback, Brian Hoyer, failed to hold onto the position. Maybe in the back of his mind, Shanahan is trying to redeem himself with developing Beathard. The Hoyer failure was one of the few quarterbacks gone bad under Shanahan.

Typically, quarterbacks have their best years with him as a play-caller. That happened with Robert Griffin III in Washington, and certainly with Matt Ryan in Atlanta, where Shanahan served as offensive coordinator.

Hoyer was a disaster. One of his main problems was a failure to get players lined up properly, which is fundamental for a quarterback.

And Shanahan has to be pleased that Beathard is taking to his coaching and his offense. The rookie seems to get better every week, and Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he sees the Shanahan offense expanding with Beathard as the starter. Carroll said Shanahan is even reaching back to plays he created in Washington and inserting them into the offense.

Carroll also said when Shanahan has a fuller complement of plays, he taxes a defense. Ultimately, that’s what Shanahan wants to do; he wants to expand the offense so a player can see what his potential is. He can’t do right now with Garoppolo because he simply doesn’t know enough plays.

Shanahan wants his players excited about his ability to put them in a position to win. That may be what Shanahan means when he says he wants to create a winning culture. If Beathard can do that for him over the last six games, don’t expect to see Garoppolo.

And that’s the right decision. As Shanahan said the 49ers made the trade for Garoppolo knowing that they could use the franchise tag on him after the season if they didn’t know enough about him to offer a long-term deal.

Even Shanahan knows that Garoppolo is the more talented player, and likely will be the 49ers’ future quarterback. But now is Beathard’s time. And Shanahan seems very satisfied with seeing how the rookie he drafted performs for the rest of the season.



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