After a four-turnover performance last week, San Francisco 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard faces quite a platform in a try for redemption.
Beathard will lead his team into Lambeau Field for Monday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers, a nationally televised matchup that represents the biggest stage on which Beathard will have started an NFL game.
He’ll face the No. 2 pass defense in the league while being supported by a banged-up offensive line and an injury-depleted receiving corps. The 49ers also figure to be without top running back Matt Breida, doubtful because of a badly sprained ankle.
Factor in a raucous and inhospitable Lambeau crowd, and the odds appear stacked against San Francisco (1-4), which lost at home last week to the previously winless Arizona Cardinals.
Beathard prefers to view it as an opportunity.
“It’s definitely something to look forward to,” Beathard said. “A Monday night game, in Lambeau. Historic stadium, playing a great team. It’s everything you ask for.”
A second-year quarterback out of Iowa, Beathard has made two starts in place of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, who tore the ACL in his left knee Sept. 23 against Kansas City and is out for the season.
Beathard showed promise in his first start, a 29-27 road defeat to the Los Angeles Chargers, completing 23 of 37 passes for 298 yards, despite absorbing some big hits in and out of the pocket.
But in last week’s 28-18 loss to the Cardinals, Beathard was intercepted twice and lost two fumbles, one of them returned for a touchdown. That offset his two touchdown passes and career-high 349 yards through the air.
Overall in two starts, Beathard has completed 57 of 91 passes (62.6 percent) for 647 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions.
Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy knows the challenge a young quarterback faces in trying to fill the shoes of an injured starter. Last season, Brett Hundley endured a turbulent ride for the Packers replacing two-time league MVP Aaron Rodgers, who broke his collarbone.
“I think the biggest thing with a backup quarterback and especially when he’s young — going through it last year — is his ability to keep the offense playing to the full menu of the game plan,” McCarthy said. “You look at their production and you have to say C.J. definitely does that. That’s a compliment to him but also a compliment to their coaching staff for having the young man ready.”
San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan wants Beathard to show better pocket awareness, sensing where the pass rush is coming from and protecting the ball. Both of Beathard’s fumbles Sunday came on strip-sacks, and Green Bay (2-2-1) enters this weekend ranked fifth in the NFL with 16 sacks.
But Beathard could benefit from better health among his offensive teammates.
Left tackle Joe Staley and center Weston Richburg have been playing through knee injuries. Both missed Thursday’s practice, as did Breida, and receivers Pierre Garcon (shoulder, knee) and Trent Taylor (back). Rookie receiver Dante Pettis, the team’s best punt returner, will miss his second consecutive game with a knee injury.
There was a bit of encouraging news Thursday in that receiver Marquise Goodwin — the 49ers’ best downfield threat and who starts opposite Garcon — practiced without restrictions after being limited most of the season with quadriceps and hamstring issues.
Beathard was asked about matching up against Rodgers. He spoke glowingly of Rodgers, who is hobbled by a knee injury but remains a master at dissecting opposing defenses.
“He’s just a baller,” Beathard said. “He’s got the quickest release, the craziest arm I’ve ever seen. It just looks like he’s throwing a Nerf ball out there.”
Source: The Associated Press