49ers QB Situation Not as Dire as Expected?

Things seem to be looking up for the San Francisco 49ers after earning their first victory of the season over the New York Giants 31-21 this past Sunday. By improving to 1-9, The 49ers will have the benefit of going into the bye week for some much needed rest before playing their last of three straight home games against the NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks. And with a couple of weeks to prepare for their next match up, one question remains to be answered: Who will be the 49ers starting quarterback for Week 12?

It was the understanding to many that when the 49ers acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo a couple weeks ago from the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2018 2nd-round draft pick that the fourth-year veteran out of Eastern Illinois would have a great shot of becoming the savior quarterback to help steer this San Francisco franchise in the right direction.  Garoppolo possesses the athleticism to maneuver out of tough situations while keeping a cool head at the same time. Another advantage for Garoppolo was having the privilege of backing up Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for four seasons and analyzing how the future Pro Football Hall of Famer handles anything thrown his way.

But while Garoppolo has all the traits to succeed in the NFL, it still remains to be seen if he will solve the 49ers’ problem at the quarterback position.  Garoppolo started the first three games of the 2016 season while Brady was serving a four-game suspension, and performed exceptionally well by completing 43 out of 63 passes for 504 yards and four touchdowns which gave him a quarterback rating of 113.3. And while all those numbers are very impressive, it’s still a mystery as to what Garoppolo can do playing a full season.

Another potential reason to pump the brakes on Garoppolo is 49ers rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard, who has started the previous four games. After the first of those three starts where Beathard was sacked a total of 14 times and knocked around consistently by opposing defenses, the former Iowa Buckeye quarterback would follow those up with the best game of his young career by throwing for 289 yards and two touchdowns with one interception last Sunday against the Giants. He also added a 11-yard touchdown run on the ground.

Though it may have only been one game, Beathard proved against the Giants that he’s more than just a tough quarterback that can absorb hits. Beathard showed great command of the 49ers offense, thanks in large part to an offensive line that by far had their best outing of the season by picking up their blocking assignments and not surrendering any sacks coupled with establishing the running game with running backs Carlos Hyde and rookie Matt Breida.  And even though Garoppolo might be waiting for his chance to take the field for the 49ers, there’s no doubt that Beathard’s performance against the Giants made head coach Kyle Shanahan’s decision on a starting quarterback a little more complicated.

It might be way too early to declare this a quarterback controversy, but the situation between Garoppolo and Beathard could be a good thing for the 49ers going forward. Competition always brings out the best in athletes fighting for the same position, and this is no different. Garoppolo may be more refined at his skill position than the current 49ers starting quarterback he is currently backing up, but Beathard possesses toughness and knows how to get back up after getting knocked down. That, in itself can’t be ignored.

Another reason for optimism about the 49ers quarterback situation goes back to the offensive line. As stated earlier, the 49ers offensive line played cohesively well against the Giants. Yes, it was against a bad Giants team that is currently a complete hot mess. But when 49ers fans saw how much time their o-line was giving Beathard to work, it finally began to show how effective Shanahan’s offensive scheme can work with the right personnel.

It remains to be seen whether Beathard or Garoppolo are the answers under center going forward, but the 49ers issue at quarterback might not be as bleak as originally thought. If the 49ers can sure up the o-line this off-season, the offense will be vastly improved with either Garoppolo or Beathard under center. And with both Garoppolo’s intangibles and Beathard’s “Never Say Die” attitude, an upgraded 49ers offensive line will make the competition even more interesting.

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