By: Jay Moore (@Jay_Moore49)
Final Edit: (@Zachhernan)
49ers GM John Lynch and new Head Coach Kyle Shanahan had their first draft, and they have been receiving high praise from most draft analysts. From trading with the @Bears at 3 to getting 2 of the better players in the 1st round at 3 and 31 overall, to landing a long, athletic corner in Witherspoon in round 3, to taking Utah RB Joe Williams in the 4th round. “Lynchahan” had a pretty good weekend, to say the least.
The real head-scratcher to most was on day two, late in the 3rd round when San Francisco traded up to take a QB named CJ Beathard out of Iowa. He’s 6’2″ 219lbs, and a red shirt senior. Most had him going in the 5th round or later, so why did the 49ers find it necessary to trade up to the 3rd to draft him? This is obviously a Kyle Shanahan pick. According to a @SI_PeterKing article, it sounds like Beathard may have been the only QB in this draft he wanted. Ill take a look at what Shanahan potentially saw in Beathard.
First off, the offense that Beathard ran in college will translate well to the NFL. There will be instances when he is looking at a play in Shanahan’s playbook that he knows very well because he ran the same play in college. He is used to calling full plays with protections in a huddle. This gives him a leg up on most QBs coming out of college.
Beathard seems to play very well in the framework of an offense. He will execute a play exactly as it is drawn up, hitting a receiver in stride at the proper depth of his drop – with the right timing. This is a skill I’m sure Kyle fell in love with when he watched the tape. Game after game he executed the short to intermediate passing game that Iowa uses to perfection.
His arm strength is above average in NFL terms. He can make all the throws required in the NFL, he is very accurate at short to intermediate throws between the numbers, hitting guys in stride to get the most yards after catch as possible (hello Trent Taylor!). His release is quick and fluid, which is a valuable asset to have in the NFL. He has good anticipation throwing outside the numbers towards the boundary. He seems to have an understanding of diagnosing what a defense is doing and going through his progressions. He took a lot of snaps from under center and is great at play action.
Let’s look at some of the negatives with his game. First thing that jumped out to me was pocket presence. He took 2 or 3 unnecessary sacks a game, not feeling the pressure coming at him, sometimes right in his face, and holding onto the ball. This is going to be something he is going to have to improve on in the NFL. Can’t take that many unnecessary sacks a game and not get injured.
Beathard likes to play in the framework of an offense, which is a good thing, but he does it sometimes to a fault. If a play is designed to go to a back working to the flat, he sometimes will throw it to him without even looking at what the defense is doing. Do that in the NFL and we will see pick-6’s start to add up. When a play is breaking down and not going the way it should go according to the playbook he looks uncomfortable. This is a skill a starting QB in the NFL has to excel at, plays won’t always go as planned.
He tends to throws off balance sometimes, off his back foot, which makes the ball sail over the targets head. This is the kind of trait in a QB that will doom them in the NFL. It will create a lot of turnovers which can hurt the confidence of a young player. This is something that Shanahan and Co. will really need to coach up.
All in all, CJ fits very well into what Shanahan wants to do with his offense. Beathard excels at the things that Shanahan looks at as the most important traits for a QB. Shanahan uses play action better than just about anyone in the NFL, creating receivers open at short to intermediate, especially between the numbers.
I fully expect Beathard to pick up this offense and play well within the framework of what Shanahan wants to do. I’m looking forward to 2017 preseason to see Beathard play in this offense. I would not be surprised to see him move the offense up and down the field with good completion percentage and throwing to a spot to give his receivers space to gain yards after the catch.
Beathard fills out a QB room for the 2017 season that has him 3rd on the depth chart, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him atop that depth chart by the end of the season.