Kyle Shanahan said he's figured out the 49ers' quarterback rotation to start the season but that he'll keep that information to himself until he meets with his players.
"I'm going to deal with that tomorrow," Shanahan said after his team's 23-13 win over the Los Angeles Chargers Thursday.
If the team's preseason rotations were any indication, the No. 2 job will go to rookie C.J. Beathard.
With Brian Hoyer and the rest of the starters watching from the sideline, Beathard started for San Francisco, the third time he’s entered a game ahead of Matt Barkley in the preseason. Another rookie, Nick Mullens, played the second half, Mullens' only work of the preseason. Barkley didn’t play at all.
But as he's stressed throughout the preseason, Shanahan noted that he's seen a lot more of Barkley, who is going into his fifth NFL season, than he has of Beathard, who is a third-round draft pick.
"We know what Matt can do, we've seen Matt a lot," Shanahan said, "We've seen him in this league, we've seen him in practice. There's nothing Matt could have done in that game to change our feeling on him. We needed to see more of C.J."
Beathard wasn’t prolific – he was 5 of 9 for 31 yards – and his accuracy wasn’t as sharp as it has been in the preseason. But he had a 62-yard touchdown scramble in which he put a move on a Chargers defender and then outran the rest of the defense to the end zone.
“That was exactly how I drew it up,” Shanahan said archly. “I probably yelled, ‘Get down!’ seven times during the play, but it kept going. It was awkward to watch, but it was a cool play to see.”
Beathard wasn’t much of a runner at Iowa. His longest run last season was 15 yards and he finished his senior season with minus-13 yards.
“Honestly, I was kind of surprised,” he said of his long run. “It was like, ‘Man, I can’t believe I just scored.’ I was tired and then a bunch of guys came over and jumped on me. I was out of breath, but it was really exciting.”
If Beathard won the No. 2 role, it might allow the 49ers to keep two quarterbacks on their active roster instead of three. Mullens presumably would be placed on the practice squad if the 49ers decided on two quarterbacks.
"I would love to keep three quarterbacks," Shanahan said. "That's going to be a hard debate."
Shanahan said he planned to make most of his 35 roster cuts Friday. The 49ers’ roster currently stands at 88 players. They must reduce it to 53 by 1 p.m. Saturday.