Final preseason game an opportunity for some 49ers players on the bubble

San Francisco 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard (3) passes against the Dallas Cowboys during an NFL preseason football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe)

SANTA CLARA — For the 49ers’ starters, Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers will be the most forgettable night of the season. The starters won’t even play.

But for the backups, Thursday will be the night their careers end or survive — perhaps their final opportunity to show they belong in the NFL. The exhibition finale is their Super Bowl.

With that in mind, here are five backups to watch closely Thursday night.

1. QB C.J. Beathard

The 49ers took a leap of faith when they traded up for Beathard in the third round of the 2017 draft. Most draft experts considered Beathard a late-round prospect who lacked traits to become a starting quarterback. Only Kyle Shanahan saw Beathard as a future quality starter.

“Every time C.J.’s in there, you’ve got a chance for a big play,” Shanahan said last week. “He loves the big play.”

So far, the experts were right about Beathard. In two seasons, he has started 10 games, his quarterback rating is just 74.6 and his win-loss record is 1-9.

“The numbers aren’t great, but we have a lot of faith in C.J.,” general manager John Lynch said on KNBR Wednesday morning.

Faith is good, but Beathard needs to give the 49ers a legitimate reason to justify their faith Thursday night. He needs to make a case for keeping a third quarterback on the roster. Needs a big performance against the Chargers. Because Nick Mullens, the 49ers’ other backup quarterback, has outplayed Beathard. Mullens’ record is 3-5 — the 49ers know they can win with him. They don’t know they can win with Beathard. They may not need him anymore. No leap of faith required.

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This article has 51 Comments

  1. Good summary. Weather should be perfect for the game tonight. Hoping for a (continued…) strong performance from Moore.

  2. Thanks Grant…look forward to you write ups
    Why is Garnett “bubble” material?..he has done squat…..team needs to dump this guy…..just reading Baalke’s name makes me want to throw a beer at my computer…LOL

    1. Shame on this front office if Garnett and Beathard are still on the team after this weekend.

      Even if they can engineer a CJB trade post-cutdown instead of cutting him outright?

    2. Coffee agree…and shame for drafting these dolt’s…..please take SThomas with you also= another done squat player

  3. I agree with CJB, Bourne and Moore, but think Wilson and Garnett will make the 53.
    .
    Wilson provides that inside zone running ability, and Garnett dislocated a finger, so he should be ready week 1.
    .
    The 10 players I see on the bubble are – CJB, Bourne, Moore, Antone Exum, Dontae Johnson, Mark Nzeocha, Levine Toilolo, David Mayo Adrian Colbert and Azeer Al-Shaair.
    .
    They could make the team with a strong performance.
    .
    GO NINERS !!!!!!

  4. On your 53 you have CJ as your 3rd QB. Int this column you’re done with him. Which one is it?
    I think they might keep Bourne over CJ (even though I tihink Garopollo will get hurt again). Bourne seems to drop the easy catch but will get the hard to catch ball.
    It’ll be interesting tonight with those two trying to help themselves and each other.
    But what about Staley? it looks like he has lost a step and is on the team for past performances.

    1. In today’s session on reading fundamentals we talk about how to convey what you think will happens vs. what you think should happen.

    1. kinda like driving a car into a wall to see if the air bags work.

      Yeah they do that in safety tests. The automotive industry of equivalent of training camp and preseason.

      1. Yeah but we have seen JimmyP do that in games….the two pick sixes come to mind and a few other int’s that were throw into coverage…I don’t buy that can of crap LOL

        1. I don’t think he really means throwing interceptions on purpose, but rather pushing the envelope and taking more risks to test your limits.

  5. What about Kevin Givens and Azeez Al-Shaair? From everything I’ve heard they have really flashed in training camp. Couldn’t they make it impossible to cut them with strong outings in this last preseason game?

  6. Old Coach:

    Jeff Wilson Jr. Making Strong Push to Earn Running Back Job
    By adding extra muscle in offseason, Wilson’s hard-running style has been a hit in San Francisco’s training camp and exhibition season
    By Doug Williams, Aug 26, 2019 at 9:51 AM

    REPLY: Busy last night so couldn’t respond about Wilson.

    Jerick McKinnon is gone. 49ers have one back with his ability–Breida. If He’s injured there is only one other back in the house with their abilities–Jeff Wilson Jr.

    Wilson added 15 Lbs w/o losing any speed in the offseason according to Shanahan, now weighing 215. This is larger than any half back on the team.

    4th quarters in Seattle is where the 49ers usually lose games. Having a 215 Lb back pounding on a tired defense with the threat to take it the distance takes pressure off JG’s knee and the passing game also.

    https://www.49ers.com/video/jeff-wilson-jr-2nd-touchdown-vs-chiefs

    https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Jeff-Wilson-Jr–Making-Strong-Push-to-Earn-Running-Back-Job-558313071.html

  7. Finally a photo with CJ not sticking his tongue out!

    What about Elijah Lee? He is a good Trade Candidate and is not a lock on the 53-roster by any means

  8. Keeping C.J. on this team makes no sense.
    It’s gonna cost a talented player a spot on the roster if they do. And for what?
    If he gets into a regular season game somehow, the season is over anyway. If Jimmy and Nick were to go down, it’s over. C.J. isn’t going to win games. He’s proven that much. Throw is Speight and accept they’re drafting early again.
    I like KS. I think he’s a good coach who’s only getting better. This Beathard situation though….. this is where he has to prove he can swallow his ego and move on from an obvious bad choice. C.J. seems like a nice guy, and he’s tough as nails. An NFL quarterback, he is not.

    1. The only reason to keep CJ is if we have 2-3 starters on the OL go down. would you want to risk Jimmy G or Mullens for a end of season sack because the back ups aren’t that good. Let old hard head take the beating until the starters (OL)come back.
      To me that’s the only reason to keep CJ.

  9. Houston

    They won’t be….we’ve had them and we’ve seen them ‘underperform’…I think that we can get a trade for CJB…then offer a STANFORD 2 for 1 Thomas and Garnett (both #1’s) for a future #1….hold onto Wilson and Bourne, and anyone to replace our ‘walking wounded’ (Ward and Bosa) sissies….

    1. I’m taking your entire comment as a joke. If it was not intended as a joke then you should stop what you’re doing and immediately seek medical attention because you’re brain may have slipped out of your cranium.

      1. Houston

        Easy to criticize, but you offer no reason why…? Do you not think that we could get anything for CJB, Garnett, and Thomas ? Or are you holding out hope that we will see Ward and Bosa for a full 16 games ?…chuckle, chuckle…perhaps it is not me with the empty cranium…eh..?

    2. I agree but what team would even take BeatHard SThomas or Garnett??? and for a 1st rounder ??? Yes you must be smoking some of my oregon skunkberry at 40% LOL

      1. Houston

        Easy to criticize, but you offer no reason why…? Do you not think that we could get anything for CJB, Garnett, and Thomas ? Or are you holding out hope that we will see Ward and Bosa for a full 16 games ?…chuckle, chuckle…perhaps it is not me with the empty cranium…eh..?

      2. Bebsie

        If that is the case, then why not throw the offer(s) out on the table and see if anyone jumps at it ?There is 630 lbs. of good STANFORD horseflesh …2 #1 draftees for a #1…seems like a good deal for someone…?

    1. Chuck Norris would avoid this dumpster fire…of course Frisco pays well so…..its the same old story…is this a SB team?

        1. I know Ribico…..its not a SB team period……the odds are horrible…look at the friggin roster….that explains all

  10. With McKinnon likely headed to IR I expect the 49ers will only keep 3 RBs + Juice. Heck, even before TC many people were wondering whether they would keep 4 RBs when they thought everyone might be healthy, and who the odd man out might be. I don’t see Wilson making the 53 just because McKinnon is down. Last season proved how you can find replacement level RBs that can be decent if you get lots of injuries at the position.

    They don’t really have the luxury of keeping a 4th RB if they want to hold onto 3 QBs.

  11. No team is going to want Mullins. He’s like a pitcher trying to make it in the big leagues with a 83 mph fast ball. Last season his first two games were gimmes. The Raiders had nothing. Mullins feasted on 20 yard passes to George Kittle, who then ran 40 yards to the end zone. Fake stats for Mullins. Name one time he threw an accurate 50 yard pass. I remember a game where all he needed was a completion into the end zone to win the game. He was afraid of an interception messing up his stats, so he airmailed everyone and lost the game. Another loss came when he threw his sideline pass on 4th down over everyone and out of bounds. He looked like the second coming of Joe Montana in the Raider game, but 50 high school quarterbacks could have done the same.

  12. You can bet the Green Bay Packers are thinking about acquiring CJ Bethard. Last season he went toe to toe with Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field, and lost only because the 49er defense gave up our lead in the last few seconds. The reason he sometimes needs more time in the pocket is because Coach Shanahan is dialing up long passes for him. For Mullens, it’s ten-yard crossing patterns with no fear of being sacked.

  13. “He just needs to be more consistent,” Shanahan said. “We need him to make sure he only makes good plays for us.” =

    Bourne is never going to be that guy………time to move on

  14. This team will hold on to more veterans. They are at least dependable when on the field to be mediocre. Unlikely that too many rookies make it through (other than some of the key picks). Rookies make a lot of mistakes and can cost games. The veterans are more dependable (as long as their play is average).

  15. @Grant – a question for KS – why not just have Wish “drop kick” the kickoff?

    I could see a punter being more comfortable with the “drop kick” instead of kicking off the tee

  16. Where are you getting that Beathard was considered by draft experts to lack the traits to become a starting QB? My recollection is that he was considered a decent prospect with an adequate arm, fluid throwing motion..etc… Played in a pro style offense without healthy college receivers to throw to. I think he was projected to be a 4th-6th QB. The biggest negative on him was that he seemed to be slow pulling the trigger at times…….which of course we’ve seen with the 49ers.

    1. Brethard was 12-0 in the Big Ten and has always had an excellent arm. Even at the third round he was an excellent pick. Wasn’t Joe Montana a third-rounder? Jimmy G was only 1-2 when he went down. The offensive line wasn’t forming the kind of pocket a qb needs to be able to go downfield with his throws. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Bethard starting after a few games. Mullens has been showcased in hopes of getting some foolish team to bite on this undrafted, unexceptional qb. He went un-drafted for a reason–he doesn’t have an NFL arm. If the 49ers end having to rely on Mullens as their backup, their record will be worse than last year.

  17. If the Niners trade a qb, it won’t be Bethard. If Garropolo can’t start, you won’t win with Mullens, unless the opposition is bottom-of-the barrel like the Raiders last year. He has no upside because of that weak arm. Defensive backs will ignore the deep threats and pick off the sideline routes. Can you say, “pick six?”

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