After a Brutal Sunday, the 49ers are Ready to Put Faith in C.J. Beathard

There have been better Sundays. The San Francisco 49ers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs and lost their franchise quarterback to a season-ending ACL tear in the process.

And it's OK to recognize that it sucked. That's the message that Kyle Shanahan conveyed to his team on Monday. Everyone was given the standard 24-hour rule to be pissed and lament on what transpired at Arrowhead Stadium. Even Shanahan admitted that "it was hard to get up in the morning" on Monday.

Now the team is back at work and gearing up for Week 4. The Los Angeles Chargers certainly aren't feeling sorry for the 49ers, and Sunday's game at the StubHub Center isn't being pushed back to give San Francisco more time to pick up the pieces. Both teams enter the contest with a 1-2 record and have had their share of injuries and costly missed opportunities.

What is helping the 49ers get reacquainted to life without Jimmy Garoppolo is the genuine confidence in backup C.J. Beathard. The second-year signal caller played in six games as a rookie in 2017 (five starts) and threw for 1,430 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions. Beathard also ran for three additional scores.

He led the 49ers to their first win in Week 10 against the New York Giants before ultimately being benched for Garoppolo in Week 13. Those experiences have played a huge role in Beathard's growth from Year 1 to Year 2.

"C.J. never wavered," Shanahan said. "(I) never saw his confidence change and when he eventually was benched and we put Jimmy in, you would think a guy would be less confident after that.

"You guys can ask him, but I truly believe he was more confident. Even though he struggled at times, he truly believed he could do it. Those are the kind of guys you want to go to battle with."

Beathard has prepared himself for this moment. The nature of being a backup quarterback means that you're always one play away from having to lead your team. That means you aren't allowed the luxury of wasting reps or glossing over the game plan. Beathard's week-to-week approach, combined with his experience as a rookie has earned the respect from his peers.

"I've gotten a lot of support from the team, guys saying they believe in me and all this stuff, which is great," Beathard said. "But, nothing drastically crazy. It's just next man up. That's kind of what our mentality is like."

Similarly to Garoppolo, Beathard should benefit from a full offseason to learn the nuances of Shanahan's offense. His five starts gave him a real-life application to what Shanahan is trying to accomplish.

"When you go through it for yourself, then the next year you actually know why you're working on it," Shanahan said. "I think when you know the why's and you have the experience of it, I think it's a lot easier to improve."

Another factor working in Beathard's favor is an improved supporting cast. Pierre Garçon is back healthy and the offensive line is vastly improved. San Francisco is currently averaging 5.6 yards per carry, good for second-best in the NFL. A productive ground game will help take some of the pressure off Beathard's shoulders.

As for why the locker room has so much faith in their new starting QB, players only have to point to the dime he threw to George Kittle in relief of Garoppolo last Sunday. The 7-yard touchdown was negated due to an erroneous offensive pass interference call. But to come in cold off the bench on 4th-and-goal with the game on the line and make that throw? That's why there's a true optimism in the 49ers locker room.

"I mean, he came in and threw a touchdown pass the next play," center Weston Richburg said of his new quarterback. "I think he's had a lot of experience, and I think he's going to step in and do a good job for us."

Who knows what will happen in Week 4 and beyond. But there's way too much season left to wave the white flag, and the 49ers have collectively made it clear that nobody intends on doing so.

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