C.J. Beathard’s performance in Iowa’s pro-style offense positioned the Hawkeye quarterback to be selected in the third round of the NFL draft.
In meeting with reporters shortly after his team made Beathard the 104th pick in this year’s draft, San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan said he wouldn’t consider the choice of a quarterback projected to go in the latter rounds of the draft surprising at all.
He said he looked beyond the statistics that saw Beathard’s completion rate fall from 61.6 percent to 56.5 percent and his interceptions double from five to 10 between his first and second seasons as Iowa’s starter.
Shanahan said during the news conference as he watched tape of Beathard, he saw a quarterback who battled through adversity.
“Just because there’s an incompletion, just because you don’t get the touchdown, it doesn’t always mean it’s the quarterback’s fault,’’ Shanahan said. "You’ve got to watch to make sure people are getting open, how the rhythm of the offense is, the protection and the receivers.’’
Shanahan saw many of the same traits when he pushed for the Redskins to select current starter Kirk Cousins in the 2012 draft even after the team moved up to select second overall pick Robert Griffin III.
“You go through an entire game and study how good does he do his job? I think he does his job very well. I think he gives his team a very good chance to win. I think he showed that a lot more in 2015 when his team had a lot more opportunities to win,’’ Shanahan said.
The 49ers coach said he was comfortable in selecting Beathard ahead of quarterbacks who may have had glossier passing numbers because he was more of known commodity.
Shanahan, who labeled San Francisco’s new quarterback fearless, intelligent and accurate, found Beathard’s work in Iowa’s pro-style system to be advantageous compared to quarterbacks who ran a spread offense in college.
“One thing that helps is seeing guys play the way you’re going to ask them to play,’’ Shanahan said. “It helps his being at Iowa and watching the system he’s in. To watch him over the years, he’s led his team to a bunch of wins.’’
Beathard finished his college career with a 21-7 record as Iowa’s starting quarterback, winning his first 13 starts through the end of the 2012 regular season. He is one of five Hawkeye quarterbacks to win 20 or more games as a starter.
Beathard said in a post-draft conference call he believes his college experience within the Iowa system positioned him to be selected where San Francisco chose him.
“I think compared to all these other quarterbacks in this draft class, one of the benefits is just because of the system I played in,’’ Beathard said. “They put a lot on the quarterback at Iowa. I had to make checks in the run game, pass game, ID the mike (linebacker). In the NFL, that’s what you have to do and I think that’s given me a step ahead of a lot of the other guys.’’
Beathard said he was being told he would likely be drafted, but that he needed to be ready to go anywhere from the third through sixth rounds of the seven-round draft.
“There was no pinpoint on where I was supposed to be, so I just made sure I was ready for anything,’’ Beathard said. “I was just ecstatic to get that call from (49ers general manager John Lynch).’’
Shanahan said Beathard, the sixth quarterback taken in this year’s draft, will be given time to develop behind probable starter Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley this season as the 49ers look to rebound from a 2-14 season.
Much like the draft itself, Beathard said he will arrive in San Francisco ready for anything.
“I’m confident in my abilities,’’ he said. “… I can’t wait to get there and get the offense and the playbook down and get with the guys and prove that I have what it takes. I know I have what it takes to be a starting quarterback in this league and for the 49ers.’’