SANTA CLARA (AP) — Coach Kyle Shanahan doesn’t even need to leave his own house to hear about how excited people are to see whether Jimmy Garoppolo can be the long-term answer at quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.
The hype surrounding Garoppolo has only been increasing since he arrived last week from New England in a trade in hopes he can be a franchise quarterback in San Francisco. But for now, rookie C.J. Beathard remains the starter while Garoppolo gets up to speed on a new offense and the 49ers get healthy enough to give him a chance to succeed when he does get to play.
“I know everyone is very excited and wants to see him play, including myself, including our coaches and players, including my wife,” Shanahan said Wednesday. “I get that. I’m very well aware of that, but I think I’m fortunate to be in a situation where we truly can do what we think is right and that’s really what we’re trying to figure out and that’s not something you just assume. It’s something you watch day-to-day and you take everything into account.”
Garoppolo is learning quickly. He did well enough last week to be able to serve as the backup in case Beathard got hurt. Shanahan said he was confident in calling about 25 run plays and 20 passes if Garoppolo had been forced into action.
While Beathard got the bulk of the starter’s work in practice Wednesday, Garoppolo is learning more of the offense and could get more practice time as the week progresses.
But Beathard remains the starter for now.
“I don’t want to throw a guy into a situation that’s tough to succeed in,” Shanahan said. “It’s very tough when some of the stuff we are going through injury-wise, but it’s not just that. It’s also throwing a guy in that situation with his lack of reps and lack of experience.”
The 49ers made a big investment in Garoppolo, trading a 2018 second-round pick to New England last week to acquire the quarterback they hope can lead a turnaround for a struggling franchise.
Garoppolo showed some promise last year when he made two starts for the Patriots in place of a suspended Tom Brady. He completed 42 of 59 passes for 496 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in wins against Arizona and Miami. He got hurt in the second quarter of his second start and has thrown just four passes since then.
Now he’s doing his best to get up to speed on San Francisco’s offense.
“A week ago today I was still signing logistical papers, medical papers, all that stuff. Now it’s just pure football,” he said. “Got a car rental and everything. So yeah, we’re in the right direction.”
Beathard, a third-round pick this year, has had a rough time in his three starts since taking over for Brian Hoyer.
He has failed to complete even half his passes the past two weeks and has been sacked 14 times in his three starts. He ranks last in the league in completion percentage (50.9), third worst in yards per attempt (5.8) and second worst in passer rating (62.7).
He hasn’t been helped by playing behind a patchwork offensive line that has left him under relentless pressure, leading to five sacks and 16 quarterback hits a week ago, and numerous drops from his receivers.
No quarterback has been blitzed on more pass plays the past three weeks than Beathard, according to SportRadar, as defenses are testing the rookie quarterback playing behind the suspect line. He has completed just 16 of 39 passes for 173 yards against the blitz in those games, while getting sacked four times.
While Shanahan has cited the injuries on the offensive line as one reason why he’s not playing Garoppolo, Beathard said he doesn’t view himself as the crash-test dummy.
“I just don’t listen to it,” he said. “People can say this or that. I’ve heard worse things said about me. Whether it’s this or that, going back to the college days you just don’t listen to the outside stuff. All I know is I’m trying to do my best and get better. The coaches have the team’s best interest in mind. I trust them and trust my team to get back to work this week and work to get a win.”
NOTES: LT Joe Staley returned to practice on a limited basis for the first time since breaking an orbital bone two weeks ago in Philadelphia. ... DL Tank Carradine (ankle) returned to practice and is the second player designated to come off IR. He got hurt in Week 3 and can be added to the active roster in two weeks.
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