Cool, calm and collected. A cliché, but also an accurate depiction of San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard. Who better to tell you about Beathard's demeanor than his college teammate George Kittle.
"From the very first day I met CJ, he came across as a guy that just leads. That's just who he is as a person," Kittle said. "He's very calm and confident at all times. I fully believe the second he takes the field with us, he's going to come across as a leader. And that's just what he does."
The duo played a key role in Iowa's 12-2 record in 2015 that resulted in a Big Ten Championship and a berth in the Rose Bowl. Fast forward to 2017 and the former Hawkeyes are now starting in the same NFL offense. Beathard's promising debut in Week 6 has earned the rookie the 49ers starting job moving forward.
"I was excited with how he played," Shanahan said. "Definitely at the time I thought he gave us best chance to win, and I think that going forward, also."
After replacing Pierre Garçon in the second quarter against the Washington Redskins, Beathard ignited the 49ers offense and erased the 17-0 deficit he inherited. The 49ers ultimately fell short but Beathard's 245 passing yards and one touchdown in just over two quarters of playing time were impressive nonetheless.
"I think the big thing is going out there and performing and showing and earning these guys' respect," Beathard said. "Hopefully I've done a little bit of that throughout my time being here. I'm just trying to gain more of that respect from all the guys."
Beathard managed to spread the ball around on offense and connected with eight different receivers against the Redskins. A full week of preparation heading into Week 7 against the Dallas Cowboys will give the rookie a chance to build a stronger rapport with the first-team offense.
It will be crucial that Beathard continues to build rapport with San Francisco's top receivers Pierre Garçon and Marquise Goodwin.
"He's a really focused guy. He loves football more than really almost anything in this life," Kittle said of Beathard. "He's taken this job seriously as Brian's backup, and he was ready to go. He didn't take very many starting reps last week and he was ready. I just think with all of the reps (this week) he'll be good to go."
Beathard has already proven the game isn't too big for him. Whether a rookie or a tenured veteran, that's a qualities that Shanahan looks for in a leader. Through two and a half NFL quarters, the mild-mannered third-round pick has already earned the respect of his 49ers teammates.
"(At Iowa) CJ was our team captain. He was our leader. That's just how he carries himself all the time." Kittle said. "Guys are just really attracted to the way he leads and that's why he's so good at it."
Only time will tell if Beathard is the long-term solution under center for San Francisco. All we know right now is that Beathard has been given the reins to the 49ers offense and will have every opportunity to show he's capable of being an NFL starter.
"I'm really just trying to take it one day, one week at a time. I'm not looking that far ahead," Beathard said. "Right now my focus is on today's practice and geared towards beating the Cowboys and doing the best we can to get better and improve."