Niners Live takes a look at an under the radar camp battle between quarterbacks C. J. Beathard and Matt Barkley and asks the question: Who wants it more?
The new regime of general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have had a common narrative this offseason and it’s called “competition”. The overall consensus is that competition makes you better as an individual player and as a team, bringing out the best in everyone. Who can disagree with that argument or assessment, right? Having said that, one common theme amongst the 49er faithful fan base and sports media outlets that hasn’t been talked about much is the competition battle between Beathard and Barkley heading into camp and pre-season for the # 2 spot behind incumbent starter Brian Hoyer.
Who is C. J. Beathard?
The grandson of former NFL general manager Bobby Beathard, the 6’2 215 lb. Beathard was selected in the third round with the 104th overall pick out of Iowa. In his career, he amassed a 21-7 record starting 28 games, completing 58.1 percent of his passes while throwing for 5,562 yards, 40 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. In 2016, he was named a captain and earned Academic and honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. In addition, he was the recipient of the team’s Hayden Fry Award, Most Valuable Player Award offense, and the Players Choice Award.
Note: The San Francisco 49ers signed Beathard to a four-year deal with a base salary of $465,000 guaranteed for 2017.
Can Barkley’s #2 spot be had for the taking?
Matt Barkley, “Mr. Inconsistent,” stands at 6’ 3”, 227 lbs., and is entering his fourth season with four different teams. Last season in 2016, he started six games with the Chicago Bears following a broken arm by once incumbent Bears’ starter Brian Hoyer. Barkley went 1-5 as a starter with 129 completions out of 216 attempts for 1,611 yards at a 59.7 passing percentage, which is below the league average, by the way, a low QBR of 39.2 and a whopping 14 interceptions against eight touchdowns thrown.
Last season highlights featuring Matt Barkley.
Note: Barkley, at 26 years young, signed a two-year, $4 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers (per Spotrac.com).
Is Beathard the favorite?
Beathard was evaluated by head coach Kyle Shanahan as tough as s___, and drew comparisons to Redskins QB Kirk Cousins by not only displaying confidence, but also the mobility and accuracy Shanahan is looking for. He also comes from a pro-style offense at Iowa, which is why he should make a smooth transition into the style of offense coaching Shanahan is looking to deploy. “I know how to break down an offense and look at an offense. The terminology is completely different, but it (the playbook) does make sense,” said Beathard (via Matt Maiocco).
General Manager John Lynch made an appearance on PFT Live with Mike Florio and he got a chance to discuss the 49ers rookie QB. “Aside from the talent in tight spaces and in tight windows, he can really rip the ball. But I think his toughness speaks to me and Kyle. This is a guy that will get hit, stand up, and that seems to be a quality all the great ones have.”
Who wants it more? That is the Question
Let the battle of who wants it more begin. Barkley, with four years under his belt, might have maxed out his potential or his ability in terms of upside so to speak. However, Shanahan’s offense is quarterback friendly in regards to giving the quarterback high percentage throws based on the plethora of offensive weapons he plans to deploy/showcase against defenses by using all his personnel in the passing game, in particular, running backs. Third round pick C. J. Beathard has the accolades coming into the NFL, and possesses leadership qualities to go along with intangibles that Lynch and Shanahan rave about as aforementioned.
Beathard’s only knock, struggle, or even challenge at this point, per say, in his attempt to overtake Barkley for the number two quarterback spot is getting more comfortable with the playbook, the speed of the game and getting familiar/use to his playmakers which comes with time and experience, something that was highlighted in his developmental stage.
This will be an interesting battle to watch, indeed. As always, keep your eyes wide-open 49er fans. Niners Live will be watching with you. #eyeswideopen and often imitated but never duplicated… Go Niners!
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Content Creator, Editor, Sequoia Sims and Co-Author, Irvin Johnson Staff Writer at Niners Live.