If I’d told you two years ago that Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard would throw an 82-yard touchdown pass to tight end George Kittle, you wouldn’t have been surprised.
But if I’d said it will happen in 2018 in the NFL?
If I’d told you two years ago that Beathard will get beat up and come back for more, you wouldn’t have been surprised.
It happened at Iowa in his two seasons as a starter. That Iowa went 12-0 in the 2015 regular season with Beathard seldom close to 100 percent physically will always remain a marvel.
Beathard threw 10 TD passes to Kittle for the Hawkeyes over 2015 and 2016. But their longest scoring hookup was that 82-yarder Sunday in the Niners’ 29-27 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in Carson, Calif.
“We decided to take a shot on that one drive and we had a big play,” Beathard said.
No one blamed Beathard for the loss. Starting after Jimmy Garoppalo tore an ACL the previous Sunday, Beathard completed 23 of 37 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns, with two interceptions. He rushed seven times for 19 yards.
In the fourth quarter, Beathard got belted by Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward as he was trying to run for a first down. He was taken to the team’s sideline injury tent to be examined for a head injury, but it wasn’t anything of that nature thought it looked severe. He had the wind knocked out of him.
Beathard returned for the next series.
“I knew I was OK,” Beathard said. “I just couldn’t breathe because I got the air knocked out of me pretty bad. I knew it would come back eventually.”
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Kittle had a career-high 125 receiving yards and continues to show he was a steal as a fifth-round draft pick in 2017 (Beathard was a third-rounder). He has 18 catches for 316 yards over four games, quite a pace.
At a postgame press conference, Kittle was asked a few questions about his buddy Beathard.
“C.J. is one of the most competitive people I’ve ever been around,” Kittle said. “He hates losing more than anybody I know. He played the game angry, that’s just how he plays it. It’s awesome. I feel like he is more mature. I feel like we all are after getting a year under our belt. The guys responded to C.J. being out there and I think we responded really well. We’re looking forward to having C.J. lead us from here on out.”
On Beathard taking hits: “He’s a bad ass. He’s good. C.J. has more grit than anyone that I know.”
On Beathard’s build: “He’s got a severe ‘dad bod.’ He can run longer than anybody I’ve ever known — which is kind of crazy — and he can take any hit. It’s pretty cool. Don’t know how he does it.”
Niners Coach Kyle Shanahan said “He gave us a chance to win today. Played very tough. Made some big plays, especially in some of the situations with guys going in and out. He handled a little adversity well, and a lot of chaos with some of the injuries. I was proud of how he played.”