Kyle Shanahan says he hasn’t lost faith in C.J. Beathard despite his recent demotion from starter to backup behind third-string quarterback Nick Mullens.
“C.J.’s story is not over and he has the ability, he has the toughness, he has the mind, to be a very successful quarterback in this league,” the 49ers coach said. “Don’t let other people tell you it’s over because it hasn’t gone the way you wanted it.”
Beathard, of course, was demoted last season in favor of Jimmy Garoppolo after he suffered a knee injury during a November loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He was dropped from starter to No. 2 last week when he suffered a right wrist injury in an 18-15 road loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Mullens had one of the best statistical performances in history against the lowly Raiders, joining Frank Tarkenton (1961) and Jim Kelly (1986) as the only quarterbacks in league history with at least 250 passing yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions in their starting debuts.
The 49ers went 0-5 in Beathard’s starts this season, dropping the Iowa alum’s career record to 1-9. He’s thrown 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions for a less-than-stellar 74.6 passer rating since he was selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft.
Shanahan’s faith in the second-year pro exists because he has seen another quarterback turn things around before: Kirk Cousins.
Cousins began his pro career 2-7 as the Washington Redskins’ starter and was widely panned before piecing together three consecutive 4,000-yard seasons. It led to signing the NFL’s first fully-guaranteed $84 million contract this offseason with the Minnesota Vikings.
“It doesn’t mean that he’s him,” Shanahan said of comparing Beathard to Cousins. “But I also know that a lot of people gave up on Kirk because of how he started and everyone wanted to put it on one guy when it was a lot more than just that.
“C.J. needs to improve, needs to get better. … (He) has the mental toughness to get through that and eventually, someday, I don’t know when, he will get his opportunity. Hopefully he’ll heal up, get fresher and learn from what he did good and what he did bad.”
Beathard showed signs of improvement when he took over following Garoppolo’s season-ending knee injury Sept. 23 in Kansas City.
Beathard threw for 298 yards against the Los Angeles Chargers, then followed it up with a career-best 349 yards in the first game this season against the Cardinals. But the 49ers dropped both games while Beathard accounted for four interceptions and a lost fumble — and then came up short against the Green Bay Packers because Beathard tossed a late-game pick, thwarting San Francisco’s chance at a go-ahead field goal.
Unfortunately for Beathard, getting demoted is a familiar feeling. But he knows how to handle it after losing the starting job to Garoppolo almost exactly a year ago.
“It’s something that’s going to make me stronger in the end, I feel like,” Beathard said. “I think God’s testing me and I think it’s all going to make me stronger in the end, make me a better person, make me a better quarterback, a better player in the long run.”
Garçon, Foster, Tartt questionable — Receiver Pierre Garçon (knee), linebacker Reuben Foster (hamstring) and strong safety Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder) missed practice Thursday and are expected to be questionable to play Monday night against the New York Giants, Shanahan said.
Garçon played last week against the Raiders and logged his first touchdown reception since joining San Francisco in 2017. Both Foster and Tartt sat out that game after suffering their injuries the previous week against the Cardinals.
San Francisco has its bye next week, which could allow banged-up players to get more time to rest if they sit out.
Welcome back McFadden — The 49ers gave their open roster spot to cornerback Greg Mabin, who was released last month and re-signed to the practice squad.
It allowed them to bring back cornerback Tarvarus McFadden to the practice squad. McFadden spent the offseason with the 49ers after signing as a priority free agent following the NFL draft. The Florida State alum failed to make the club during final cuts and signed to the Colts practice squad Sept. 11. He was released Sept. 25.