The 49ers, who took long looks at the most prominent quarterbacks in this year’s draft, ended up taking a more obscure one -- C.J. Beathard from Iowa.
San Francisco traded back into the third round with Minnesota to take Beathard at pick 104, which had been a Vikings’ compensatory pick. In return they sent the 109th pick (fourth round) and 219th (seventh round) to Minnesota.
Beathard (6-2, 219) is the grandson of former Washington and San Diego general manager Bobby Beathard, and 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said it was obvious that football is very important to him.
“He’s a leader. He’s tough. He processes (information) very well,” Shanahan said. “He’s extremely accurate, and he lives and dies football.”
Beathard completed only 56.5 percent of his passes last season and threw 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, none of which are sterling numbers. But Shanahan noted that his statistics were better in 2015 (61.6 percent, 17-5) when Iowa had a stronger team and that he operated in a pro-style system, which doesn’t produce gaudy numbers like the spread attacks other draft-eligible quarterbacks ran.
“One thing that helps is seeing guys play the way you’re going to ask them to play,” Shanahan said. “... To watch him over the years -- he was a three-year starter, led his team to a bunch of wins, especially in 2015 when they had a better team. I think he played unbelievably.”
Beathard agreed that his background at Iowa gave him an advantage over other passers in this year’s draft.
“They put a lot on the quarterback at Iowa -- the run game, the pass game,” he said. “In the NFL, that’s what you have to do. And I think that gave me a step ahead of all the other guys.”
Shanahan said Beathard was a little like a fourth-round pick his team selected when he was with Washington -- Kirk Cousins -- in that he’s not a starting caliber passer now but could develop into one over time. He said that Brian Hoyer is the clear starter this season and that Matt Barkley is the backup.
Both Shanahan and general manager John Lynch said they thought Beathard might be available in the fourth round but decided not to take the risk. Beathard said he was told he’d be taken anywhere from the third to the sixth round.
“We felt like it was worth it knowing that we had a player that we liked and want the opportunity to develop at the quarterback position,” Lynch said.