C.J. Beathard Uplifts Team; Gives 49er Fans Hope and Optimism

On Sunday against the Washington Redskins on the road at FedExField the 49ers fell short yet again, 24 to 26, Washington. Although it became a very entertaining game, the 49ers became the first team in NFL history to lose 5 straight games by 3 or fewer points. And now we drop our post-game recap, grades, assessments and some light at the end of the tunnel: C.J. Beathard uplifts team; Gives 49er fans hope and optimism.



Defense, the Highlights 

  • Rashard Robinson accounted for 2 tackles, 1 being solo, 1 pass defended and an interception. Robinson saw some of his reps being reduced in favor of Akhello Witherspoon by design.
  • Dontae Johnson accounted for 3 tackles, 2 being solo and 1 pass defended in the end zone that stopped a touchdown. Johnson saw some of his reps being reduced in favor of Witherspoon by design.
  • Jaquiski Tartt accounted for 6 total tackles, 4 being solo and 1 tackle for loss (his presence was felt the whole game); news flash, he’s getting better.
  • Jimmie Ward finished with 3 tackles, 2 being solo and a fumble recovery that set up a touchdown run by Carlos Hyde. Ward and Tartt are the future and this is the strength of the secondary.
  • Earl Mitchell accounted for 7 tackles, 4 being solo and 1 tackle for loss. This is the production the 49ers thought they were getting when he signed his deal.
  • Solomon Thomas, the prize #3 overall pick in the draft, led the team in tackles with 9 tackles, 7 being solo, 1 sack, 2 tackles for losses and 1 QB hit. His best game and overall production. Keep it up, Thomas.
  • Eli Harold had 9 tackles (tied for team lead), 3 solo, 1 tackle for loss and 1 QB hit. The best all-around game in (production/activity) of the year. Had some coverage issues but the production was there.
  • DeForest Buckner accounted for 5 tackles, 4 being solo, 1 tackle for a loss, and 1 QB hit. Buckner had some applied pressure and did help hold Washington to 2.8 yards a rush, on the ground.
  • Arik Armstead accounted for 3 tackles, 2 being solo, and 1 tackle for a loss which was for 8 to 9 yards. Before Armstead when out with a hand injury he was active and getting pressure, you could tell he was going to have a good game.
  • D.J. Jones accounted for 2 solo tackles total. His effort on the field doesn’t go unnoticed within the little reps he does get (his sideline chase down tackle).
  • Xavier Cooper had 3 tackles, 1 being solo, 1 tackle for a loss and 2 QB hits. Very active.
  • Bradley Pinion / Special teams — had 6 punts for 254 yards with a 42.3 average and pinned the Redskins inside the 20-yard line 4 times with 49 yards being his longest punt.

Defense, the Lowlights

  • Ahkello Witherspoon, baptism by fire. The rookie had 2 tackles, 1 being solo. Spoon was beaten several times in coverage as he rotated between Johnson and Robinson. He’s a work in progress.
  • Ray-Ray Armstrong accounted for 8 tackles, 3 being solo and a strip fumble on Vernon Davis where his elbow seemed to be down. Ray-Ray had several missed tackles and was burned by VD on a 52-yard catch and run. Combined with Brock Coyle, surrendered 11 catches on 12 targets for 213 yards and a TD, via @PFF.
  • Brock Coyle had 6 total tackles, 3 being solo and 1 tackle for a loss. Coyle had several missed tackles and was burned in the flat at will by running back Chris Thompson and (see above).
  • Aaron Lynch accounted for 1 total tackle and provided little pressure but had to leave the game, overall was a non-factor.
  • K’Waun Williams had 5 tackles total all solo and no pass defended or turnovers. Williams had a holding penalty that helped sustain a scoring drive for Washington and was beaten several times.
  • Elvis Dumervil recorded 1 QB hit and was a non-factor (Armstead’s injury and Lynch being banged up) forced him into a different role which he wasn’t able to come into fresh, like normal, and it showed.
  • Mark Nzeocha accounted for 1 solo tackle total.
  • Eric Reid had one tackle total and illegal hands to the face penalty in his first game back where he saw (reduced snaps by design) more action at the line of scrimmage as a linebacker role (box score stats courtesy of ESPN.com).

Defensive Summary Breakdown

The 49ers Defense forced (2) turnovers which won the turnover battle against Washington (1). The defense generated 1 sack, 9 tackles for losses, 6 QB hits and little pressure against the Redskins’ offensive’ line and quarterback Kirk Cousins. The defense allowed 419 yards of total offense on 71 plays and allowed the Redskins to go 7 out of 14 on third down 50%. The Redskins were 3-4 in the red zone. The 49ers’ defense gave up 94 yards rushing at 2.8 yards per rush. The Redskins’ offense totaled (25) first downs in the game (17) passing, (6) rushing, (2) by way of penalties. The 49ers’ defense (secondary and LB’s) allowed Cousins to throw for 330 yards passing (4 catches and 105 yards came from a running back in Chris Thompson) while completing 25/37 for 2 touchdowns and one interception at 8.9 per pass play while generating a QBR 86.8 and a passer rating of 102.3 (summary stats courtesy of ESPN.com).

Let’s look a little deeper: The secondary has issues by way of giving up big plays and penalties at will, week in and week out, mainly the two starting cornerbacks — Robinson and Johnson. However, they aren’t alone, this week the linebacking corps featuring Armstrong and Coyle got abused as aforementioned by Pro Football Focus. The 49ers new regime took snaps from NaVorro Bowman and that ultimately (with his unhappiness) led to his release, in favor of Coyle, Armstrong and soon to make his return Reuben Foster. However, on Sunday, that move left you scratching your head when you saw how the Redskins strategy was to exploit the LB’s more than the secondary. Now that’s saying something, because they like their matchups better with their tight ends and running backs versus the 49ers’ linebackers trying to cover in space, the flat or on the outside ala Vernon Davis 52 yard catch and run on Armstrong. As of 10/16/2017, the 49ers are giving up 24.3 ppg as a defense and are ranked 30th in total defense.

Grades for the defense break down as follows

  • Robinson, Witherspoon, and Johnson – They all got beaten in coverage at times and had their positive moments at times in the game, but still a mixed bag of reviews. They were given almost the night off because the mismatches were at the Linebacker positions. However, Robinson did come up with a turnover (see highlights above). This unit was also part of 330 yards being given up through the air and not getting off the field on third down. The corners grade out as a (C).
  • Williams – Don’t let the stats fool you, he had a mixed bag of reviews, to say the least, in the running game (missed a tackle) and in coverage he was beaten by WR Ryan Grant to name a few on a key third down play along with a key penalty and the Redskins exploited the slot when they wanted to. Williams grades out as a (D).
  • Ward the Eraser – Ward made his presence felt and known and had a key fumble recovery that led to a Hyde TD. However, Cousins still threw for 330 yards and VD got loose on his backend watch as the Eraser. Ward grades out as a (C+).
  • Tartt (Box) – His presence and quality production were there (Tartt is getting better each game). However, Redskins tight ends got loose on his watch in the secondary and he was part of a unit that gave up over 300 yards passing. Tartt grades out as a (C+).
  • Linebackers – In Bowman’s absence – Coyle’s lack of athleticism, speed, quickness and the ability to cover in space and be an efficient tackler showed up big time. Armstrong – played undisciplined and missed tackles along with getting exposed in coverage this week. Bowman’s leadership was missed on the field and his production with a lost step or not couldn’t be worse than how Coyle looked. This unit grades out as a (D+). If Eli hadn’t had a huge day in production this grade would be an F.
  • Defensive Line – Only one sack (Thomas), 6 QB hits, and over 400 yards given up in total yards and this unit allowed the Redskins to go 7 for 14 on third down and 3 for 4 in the red zone with no real pressure on Cousins. This unit grades out as a (D+). If it wasn’t for Thomas, Buckner and Mitchell holding the Redskins to under 100 yards rushing at 2.8 yards a pop, this unit would grade out at an F.
  • DC Robert Saleh – his defense can’t get off the field on third down, which has been the problem all year, along with key defensive penalties. Back-to-back weeks of giving up 400 yards in total offense, no extreme violence displayed by only 6 QB hits and 1 sack with limited pressure and a defense that now gives up 24 plus points a game. Also, he had to have a say in getting his guy Coyle (SeaHawks connection) more playing time which he vouched for and Coyle got exposed big time because of it. Saleh grades out at a (D-).

Offense, the Highlights

  • C.J. Beathard – Midway through the second quarter against Washington the 49ers benched Brian Hoyer in favor of C.J. Beathard, who completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards at 6.8 per pass attempt; 1 touchdown and 1 late interception while generating a QBR of 57.6 and a 72.1 RTG, which before the late int was above 90. Beathard rallied the 49ers’ offense to 17 points unanswered once he got in the game. Also, Beathard did provide 1 rush for 14 yards.
  • Carlos Hyde had 13 carries for 28 yards at 2.2 yards a rush (not good), but he did have two rushing TD’s and 5 catches for 47 yards on 6 targets at 9.4 yards per catch.
  • Pierre Garcon had 5 catches for 55 yards at an average of 11.0 on 12 targets. Garcon had key/clutch and acrobatic catches to go along with a one-handed catch for a first down (he’s exciting to watch). Questionable offensive pass interference call on Garcon.
  • Aldrick Robinson had 2 catches for 66 yards at an average of 33.0 on 5 targets and a big touchdown catch on a pass from Beathard of 45 yards. First TD of the season and second by a 49ers’ wide receiver.
  • Raheem Mostert had one rush for 16 yards for a first down (nice play call).
  • George Kittle had 4 catches for 46 yards at an 11.5 average on 8 targets and a drop pass.
  • Matt Breida had 4 rushes for 21 yards at 5.3 yards per rush. Breida did catch 2 passes for 15 yards on 4 targets (dual threat), but didn’t get enough touches again this week.
  • Trent Taylor / Special Teams – had 1 huge punt return at a pivotal point in the game for 39 yards.
  • The entire offensive line makes this list: The offensive line gave up only three sacks; two came from Hoyer and Beathard holding the ball too long. This unit managed 85 yards on the ground at 4.3 yards a rush against a stingy Redskins defense; not great, but solid.

Offense, the Lowlights

  • Brian Hoyer completed 4 of 11 passes for 34 yards at 3.1 per pass attempt and was benched while generating a QBR of 6.5 and a 45.3 RTG.
  • Garrett Celek had 1 catch for 13 yards (first down) on two targets, but had a key dropped pass in the game.
  • Marquise Goodwin had 2 catches for 26 yards at an average of 13.0 on 5 targets, and a dropped pass.
  • Trent Taylor had 2 catches for 11 yards on 5 targets.
  • Robbie Gould / Special Teams – was 1 out of 2 for field goals, with his longest being 52, but missed a 48-yarder.
  • The entire offensive line makes this list: the unit allowed 10 QB hits and key penalties down the stretch of the game; (Trent Brown) two false starts just to highlight a few.

Offensive Summary Breakdown

The 49ers had (21) first downs, (7) rushing, (12) passing, (2) penalty; converting on third down just 6 out of 17 times and 1 for 2 on 4th down and were 2 for 2 in the red zone. The 49ers accounted for 70 plays for 335 yards; 250 of those yards were from the passing game on 12 drives for 4.8 yards per play average. On the ground, the 49ers managed just 85 yards total at 4.3 yards a carry. The 49ers had 7 penalties for 40 yards.

Important to note: The 49ers’ offense is now ranked 12th in total offense and is scoring 18.8 ppg.

The time of possession was: SF 23:08 and Redskins 36:52. The 49ers’ offensive line gave up 3 sacks and just 10 QB hits. The running game didn’t get on track by the yard total, but the yards per average was good. Self-inflicted wounds just continue to haunt this team and this offense by way of costly penalties and drop passes that simply killed potential scoring drives.

Grades for the offense break down as follows

  • Brian Hoyer – Got benched (see lowlights) (F).
  • C.J. Beathard– Based on coming in the game late and doing what he did (see offensive highlights) and providing mobility, strong arm strength, improvisational skills, confidence, grit, toughness in an adverse situation with a will to win that inspired and almost led his team to a win on the road that can’t be ignored. C.J. Beathard grades out an (A-). If his ball placement and accuracy would have been better along with not holding the ball that led to a sack this grade would be an A.
  • WR’s and TE’s -Mixed reviews, some key drops by both units (see high/low light stats on Goodwin, Garcon, Robinson, Celek, and Kittle). No player over 5 catches or 70 plus yards in the game. This unit grades out at a (B-).
  • RB’s/FB – The 28 yards at 2.2 yards a pop won’t get it done (see Hyde). However, he did score two TD’s on the ground. Breida posted a 5.3 yards a carry average and is a dual-threat coming out the backfield, but still not enough touches. This unit grades out at a (C+).
  • Offensive Line – Gave up 3 sacks and 10 QB hits and multiple penalties (Trent Brown false start). (See highlights on O-line) This unit grades out at a (C).
  • OC/HC Kyle Shanahan – His best coaching decision came on Sunday when he benched Brian Hoyer, but even then, why did he wait so long? In the end, he finally made the right move and his play calling improved with C.J. Beathard being inserted in the game. I thought Shanahan gave Beathard a chance to be successful with his play calling. However, the same problem from last week came up — Breida didn’t get enough touches (see highlights). The 49ers were 6 for 17 on third down with drop passes and key penalties at crucial times of the game. Shanahan grades out at a (B).

C.J. Beathard uplifts team; Gives 49er fans hope and optimism

This game was all about a third-round quarterback out of Iowa named C.J. Beathard who almost rallied and willed a 0-5 team to victory this past Sunday against the Washington Redskins. You saw Beathard come in with a demeanor of calm, cool and even kill/collective while displaying toughness and a strong competitive nature. All that, his play and most importantly his lead by example resolve/leadership helped inspire this team overall, and the “Faithful” fan base, after the release of one of its longest-tenured players on the team — linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

What should we expect moving forward?

It will be interesting to see what happens now that there’s some regular season game film on Beathard and team’s will be able to game plan against him and his areas of opportunity as a rookie QB. As the competition grows and the schemes become more complex or confusing, with better personnel in the secondary and in the pass rush department, Niners Live will be sitting back analyzing every snap of the way, no pun intended, of course, to see how Mr. C.J. Beathard responds.

49er updates, interviews and news:

Beathard recaps his play, Quote Roundup by playersfull highlights, and here’s what head coach Kyle Shanahan had to say about Sunday’s performance (via the team’s website).

Please join us again soon on Niners Live, the home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, of course.

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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football Focus49ers.comESPN.comNFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Content Creator, EditorSequoia Sims .