INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — You knew it wasn’t great for C.J. Beathard when the 49ers struck at deal with the Patriots last fall and landed quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Garoppolo made the 49ers better at everything.
The Niners started 0-9 and finished 6-10. At the 2017 NFL combine, 49ers general manager John Lynch was super nervous about quarterback because he didn’t have one.
Now, they have Garoppolo.
“He went in and, as we like to say, he balled out,” Lynch said Thursday. “He made our team better and then the focus became, hey, let’s lock him up.”
On Feb. 8, San Francisco signed Garoppolo to a five-year contract extension. The deal is worth $137.5 million and is the largest in NFL history on an average-per-year basis. Garoppolo will earn $61.2 million over the first two seasons, $48.7M of which is guaranteed at signing.
So, Garoppolo is the 49ers QB for the near and maybe distant future. Where does that leave Beathard, the former Iowa quarterback?
First, Lynch let everyone know that Beathard, a third-round pick in ’17, has been the consummate professional throughout this.
“We think very highly of C.J.,” Lynch said. “One of the reasons it was easier to be patient (at QB), (head coach) Kyle (Shanahan) was making those decisions with Jimmy, was that C.J. was playing well in our mind. He was improving each and every week.
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“C.J. has handled this tremendously well with a tremendous amount of class. It’s motivated him to become even better, to continue working on his craft. We love his makeup, what he’s all about.”
Beathard was the first quarterback to directly come out of the University of Iowa and throw a pass in the NFL since Mark Vlasic went 9 of 20 for the Chiefs in a 1992 playoff game against Buffalo.
He played in seven games and the Niners went 1-4 with him as the starter. Beathard threw four TDs and six interceptions and finished with a completion percentage of 54.9.
He’s No. 2 for the 49ers and Lynch has a really good goal in mind for him.
“My message to him is become the next Jimmy Garoppolo,” Lynch said. “You keep playing well, good things will happen for you. He understands that, I think, having been around football and his family. That background has prepared him for adversity. When it looked like things were going so well, that could’ve been hard for a young man to take, but he responded in the fashion we thought he would.”
Lynch on former Iowa TE George Kittle
Beathard was a twofer on Hawkeyes for the 49ers in the 2017 draft. The Niners also drafted former Iowa tight end George Kittle.
Kittle tore it up for the Niners in his rookie season, catching 43 passes for 515 yards and two TDs. He played in 15 games, missing one with a hamstring injury.
“For George, his talent is pretty unique,” Lynch said. “He’s going to have to continue to figure out ways to stay on the field. The injury bug hit him and that does happen with a lot of rookies. That’s a long season, but we’re very high on him.”
The New England ties
Before he was Iowa’s offensive line coach and now offensive coordinator, Brian Ferentz, who’ll turn 35 later this month, spent four seasons on the Patriots’ staff. Now former Patriots defensive coordinator and new head coach of the Detroit Lions Matt Patricia had a few nice things to say about his former colleague at the combine.
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“Just in general with Brian, I think he’s phenomenal,” Patricia said. “He’s a really smart guy. He works extremely hard. He studies the game. Tries to understand the problems that are involved in it. His overall organization is phenomenal. He was a young guy with us and very detail-oriented from that standpoint.
“I just think the world of him as a coach, as a person. I think the sky’s the limit for him.”
Mike Daniels making noise
Former Iowa defensive tackle and current Green Bay Packer Mike Daniels told the NFL Network that he loves new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and that, yes, the defense needed a culture change.
As far as a defensive scheme change, that still hasn’t been revealed. Daniels will be in the middle of it.
“Mike’s play style is not only a huge asset to our D-line, but to our whole football team,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. “Schematically, you’ve got to play to Mike’s strengths. Create the opportunities and I think anytime you can get Mike in a one-on-one situation, you’ll probably see more production.”
On Bryan Bulaga
Former Iowa offensive tackle and current Green Bay Packer Bryan Bulaga is recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in November. He might not be ready for the start of the 2018, and the Packers will have to make a decision on where the 8-year veteran stands.
Bulaga turns 29 in this month. He has two years left on the deal he signed after the 2014 season.
“Bryan is recovering down in Florida,” McCarthy said. “I had a chance to talk to the medical staff about him. All the feedback has been positive.”
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