Every day leading up to the start of training camp, 49ers.com will assess each position group on the roster as we get closer to the season. In this installment, we will take a look at the quarterback position and the competition for the primary backup role behind Jimmy Garoppolo.
Heading into training camp, the 49ers have four quarterbacks on the current roster. Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard will compete for the backup role behind Garoppolo. Given the effects of the worldwide pandemic, will the 49ers choose to keep multiple quarterbacks on its roster for the second-straight season? Could there be a lineup change behind Garoppolo in 2020?
The 49ers kept three quarterbacks on its roster throughout the 2019 season. Mullens won the backup job over Beathard, dressing for all 16 games and the postseason. Garoppolo finished the season completing 69 percent of his passes and registered single-season career highs in attempts (476), completions (329), yards (3,978), touchdowns (27), rushes (46) and rushing yards (62). Garoppolo threw the fourth-most passing yards in a single season in franchise history last year, behind only Jeff Garcia in 2000 and Steve Young in 1998 and '93.
Jimmy Garoppolo: Despite the criticism this offseason, Garoppolo was key in leading the 49ers to a 13-win season, an NFC West championship and a Super Bowl appearance just one year removed from an ACL injury. Garoppolo is coming off of his first full season as an NFL starter which led Kyle Shanahan to believe the quarterback has plenty of room to improve in 2020.
"I can tell his thoughts are a lot clearer because he's not worrying about an ACL and rehabbing (this offseason)," Shanahan said last month. "To go through an offseason where you don't have to rehab the whole time, it gives you a chance to take that to another level."
Nick Mullens: The 49ers kept Mullens on the active roster last season behind Garoppolo. He filled in admirably in 2018 after Garoppolo went down in Week 3 of the regular season, when the quarterback appeared in eight games and completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,277 yards and 13 touchdowns. His 2,277 passing yards in his first eight career games are the fourth-most by an NFL quarterback since 1970. Mullens, who was an undrafted free agent in 2017, will enter the final year of his contract this season.
C.J. Beathard: Beathard was the third quarterback on the 49ers roster in 2019. Looking to regain his position as Garoppolo's primary backup, Beathard displayed toughness and resilience after being thrown into the fire his rookie season. Since, he has appeared in 13 games and 10 starts over the last three years. Now, Beathard will need to make the most out of training camp to secure the top backup job again. Like Mullens, Beathard is also entering the final year of his contract.
Broc Rutter: Rutter joined the 49ers as an undrafted free agent out of North Central College. The quarterback set NCAA Division III records for career passing yards (14,265) and the most career games with at least 200 passing yards (44). Rutter ranked second nationally in passing yards, passing touchdowns (56) and passing efficiency (199.9), while leading the Cardinals to their first-ever Division III National Championship last season. He started every game at North Central College and owns a 44-7 record over the past four seasons. Rutter won the 2019 Gagliardi Trophy, given to the best player in Division III college football.
Rutter could find himself competing with Mullens and Beathard for a backup role. The 49ers could also choose to develop the rookie on the team's practice squad.