If he thought a shakeup at quarterback would help his winless team, Kyle Shanahan said Monday, he’d yank Brian Hoyer and replace him with rookie C.J. Beathard in an instant.
But he’s not there yet and said it’s not something he’s considering.
“You don’t want to lose perspective,” Shanahan said a day after an 18-15 overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals. “You look at each game as it is. I know we’re 0-4 right now, but when you lose three games by a total of eight points, I know we very easily could be 3-1. You don’t want to make drastic changes for one reason.”
That’s not to say Shanahan is content with Hoyer, who was signed in the offseason as the unchallenged starter largely because of his familiarity with Shanahan and his offensive system.
Despite that background, the 49ers offense has been sloppy and unsure of itself through the first quarter of the season. Hoyer has one of the lowest completion percentages in the league, 58.1 percent, and his 67.9 passer rating ranks 30th. By comparison, Blaine Gabbert had a 68.4 passer rating and a win under his belt when he was replaced by Colin Kaepernick after five games last year.
“I think he needs to play better,” Shanahan said of Hoyer. “And I think we can play better around him. … When you have the time and you have guys open, you need to hit them. I thought he struggled with that at times (Sunday). I know he can do better. But I also know when he did make throws, guys weren’t great at catching them for him, either.”
Hoyer had a hotter start under Shanahan in 2014 when they were with the Cleveland Browns and Hoyer was learning the offense for the first time. In his first four starts there, he threw six touchdowns against one interception for a 97.6 passer rating. The Browns were 2-2 in those games.
Hoyer was trying to hold off first-round draft choice Johnny Manziel that year, which Hoyer mostly was able to do until mid-December. The Browns went 7-9 that season.
This year the only other quarterback on the 53-man roster is Beathard, a third-round pick who has played one snap so far in 2017. That came Sunday when Hoyer, after an awkward takedown against the Cardinals, was taken to the sideline. Beathard handed the ball to tailback Carlos Hyde for a 15-yard gain.
Beathard played in a pro-style system at Iowa, looked sure of himself throughout the summer and leapfrogged veteran Matt Barkley to become Hoyer’s top backup this season. But that remains his role.
“I don’t look at it as Brian-vs.-C.J. right now,” Shanahan said. “I look at it as, ‘What’s best for our team right now?’ If I did feel that was the best thing for our team at this time, I wouldn’t hesitate at all. That would be an easy decision for me. … I don’t think it is the best thing right now. That’s something I haven’t started to consider.”
In Hoyer’s defense, he lost one of his top wideouts, Marquise Goodwin, to a concussion early Sunday and obviously did not have good chemistry with Goodwin’s replacement, Aldrick Robinson. Twelve of Hoyer’s passes went in Robinson’s direction and the receiver caught three of them for 52 yards.
Robinson and tight ends George Kittle and Logan Paulsen all had big drops on Sunday. The 49ers also committed 13 penalties in Arizona. With Monday’s game yet to be played, they led the league with 39 penalties.
Et cetera – Shanahan said he wouldn’t rule out Reuben Foster (ankle) Sunday against the Colts but said he’d be surprised if the rookie linebacker plays. Both Foster and safety Eric Reid (knee) are unlikely to be available.
* For the second straight week running back Carlos Hyde (oblique) will be limited in practice. Hyde had 16 carries for 68 yards against the Cardinals. His backup, Matt Breida, had a season-high nine carries.
* One of Hoyer’s errant throws Sunday was snagged by Shanahan, who was standing several feet out of bounds. He tossed away the ball in disgust. “That was my first spike,” he deadpanned Monday.