The 49ers entered the season with a lot of hope and probably more than their fair share of hype. That all ended in week three when, instead of just going out of bounds, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo decided to cut back and fight for a few extra yards. In the process, he tore his ACL and is out for the 2018 season. I did a series of articles at the end of last year called ‘What Next’ which featured a number of teams and I pose the same question now to the 49ers as there’s a number of direction with which they could go.
Whatever happens, the message to the public via the media and social media will be ‘next man up’ and carry on. The next man at the moment is CJ Beathard. Beathard played a few games last year when between Shanahan realising Hoyer was terrible and the trade for Garoppolo. For a rookie, Beathard didn’t look terrible, but nor did he look good. With an extra year under his belt to take in the Shanahan system and playing alongside Garoppolo there’s a chance that his second stint might be better. I’ll be honest though, I don’t hold out much hope though won’t be disappointed if proved wrong.Embed from Getty Images
The 49ers have bought in a lot of veterans, presumably to act as backup but would have a genuine chance to play if Beathard is as advertised. TJ Yates, EJ Manuel, Landry Jones, Tom Savage, Matt Simms, Kyle Allen and Kellen Clemens are the names that have apparently been in for a tryout. There is not one name in that list that would inspire me with any sort of confidence that the 49ers would make the playoffs and I’d much rather Beathard and newly minted backup Nick Mullins be given some valuable game time.
Should they trade for a quarterback? If they did then names such as Tyrod Taylor, Nick Foles and Sam Bradford are the ones likely to be mentioned. Taylor isn’t likely to fit into Shanahan’s scheme. Superbowl MVP Nick Foles was great in the playoffs last year but before, and after, has not inspired confidence. Bradford on his day would be the best bet but so far this year for Arizona has struggled, being replaced by the rookie Josh Rosen going in to week four. There’s also the chance that he too will get injured!
What I don’t like about trading is that teams will know the level of desperation that the 49ers are in and could try and fleece them. I don’t like the thought of investing in a high draft pick to get a quarterback in for the rest of this year when none of them are likely to get up to speed quick enough to start getting wins and get the 49ers to the playoffs. Especially when it puts at risk the chances of bringing in younger, arguably more talented players coming out of the college system next year.
What I think they should (and probably will) do is use this year to give the other players on the team more experience. The core of the team is still quite young and using this year to give them more experience of the NFL will only benefit them in later years – providing those players really do have the talent to be potential stars. If this is to be the case, then a lot of responsibility lies on the shoulders of Shanahan and his coaching team, because it’s hard to consistently lose and keep your head up high and play to your best each week (believe me, I’ve played on enough bad soccer teams to know!!). Shanahan has to deliver a message of hope and of “us against the world”, “no one believes you” and foster a team spirit that alone could see some weaker teams off.
I, personally, hope that the 49ers and Beathard go on to prove all the doubters wrong. I’ll support them regardless as a good fan should (whilst watch in slight awe and jealousy at our NFC West rivals the Rams!).