Was the third round too soon for the 49ers to take Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard, as many draft observers have contended? Not at all, said one guy who knows a thing or two about NFL prospects.
“Not so high whatsoever,” said former San Francisco and Washington general manager Scot McCloughan, who became an admirer of Beathard’s during the fall and who had him pegged as a third rounder.
“That’s where you take a shot, especially at that position, with a guy that you feel good about,” he said. “The position alone is hard enough. But that guy – he understands the game, he sees the game. You don’t have to teach him to read defenses, you don’t have to teach him to call a play in the huddle, you don’t have to teach to get under center. He has it. He was really impressive.”
Washington fired McCloughan in March, but not before he finalized the team’s draft board. McCloughan said he will resurrect the scouting service – evaluating draft prospects for NFL teams – he ran between his stint with the Seattle Seahawks and being hired by Washington in 2015.
He also is donating some of his signed team gear to Washington’s charitable foundation and was quite pleased that the camouflage hat he liked to wear at practices already was up to $700 on eBay.
Another item he is auctioning is the tan suit he often was photographed wearing on game days. It turns out that was McCloughan’s first nice suit and that it was bought for him by Mike and Kathy Nolan in 2005. Nolan, the 49ers’ first-year head coach at the time, hired McCloughan to run San Francisco’s personnel department that year. (The suit was up to $1,275 as of Tuesday afternoon).
When looking at college prospects, scouts such as McCloughan like to provide comparisons to known NFL players. Beathard’s comp?
“I did a lot of work on the quarterbacks this entire fall, and he reminded me of Matt Hasselbeck,” McCloughan said of the former quarterback who spent 17 years in the NFL. “I thought he’s going to be a good player. Day 1? Probably not. But Year 3 you might have a starter right there staring you in the face, which is really cool.”
After drafting Beathard, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Iowa’s pro-style system aided his evaluation.
“One thing that helps is being able to see guys play the way you’re going to ask them to play,” he said. “I think that helps with being at Iowa, having watched the system that he’s in. it’s easier to see.”
McCloughan said something similar.
“I was watching all these (quarterbacks) in he spread offense – they don’t call a play,” he said. “It comes in from the sidelines. They’re in the shotgun every snap. With (Iowa coach) Kirk Ferentz and their staff, they do an excellent job of teaching players how to be players. I took (OL) Brandon Scherff out of there and Day 1 he was a stud. He was taught the right way – practice wise, weight-room wise, everything. They’re taught the right way.”
The 49ers ended up taking two Iowa players when they selected tight end George Kittle in the fifth round.