49ers draft Iowa QB C.J. Beathard: 'They won't regret it'

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

If any further evidence were needed that the NFL Draft is unpredictable, there's this: Quarterback C.J. Beathard became the first Hawkeye off the board in 2017.

Beathard was selected in the third round by the San Francisco 49ers with the No. 104 overall pick Friday night.

The Franklin, Tenn., native becomes the highest-drafted quarterback to have played for head coach Kirk Ferentz, outpacing Ricky Stanzi (fifth round, 2011) and Jake Rudock (sixth round, 2016).

One of C.J. Beathard's top strengths heading to the next level is his ability to process information and read defenses. He was chosen in the third round by the San Francisco 49ers on Friday night.

Beathard (6-foot-2½, 219 pounds) threw for more than 5,500 yards and racked up 40 touchdown passes while compiling a 21-7 record as a starter at Iowa.

"They won't regret it," Beathard told Bay Area media in a conference call Friday night.

He joins a franchise that is building from the ground up and will be part of a shaky 49ers depth chart at QB that includes 2016 Chicago Bears backups Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

"We’re bringing him in here to develop him and give him a chance, but just like any other position, everyone competes," new 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. "Brian is our starting quarterback and, right now, Matt Barkley is our second. And I look at him to come in and be our third, with us only having three on the roster.

"He’s a leader. He’s tough. He processes very well. He's extremely accurate and he lives and dies football."

49ers general manager John Lynch traded picks with the Minnesota Vikings to move into the third round to nab Beathard.

"At the end of the day, we felt like it was worth it," Lynch told media, "to be able to go to bed knowing that we had a (quarterback) that we liked."

Beathard was the sixth quarterback taken overall in the draft, a huge jump up the board compared with the pundits' prognostications. Beathard was expected to be a sixth or seventh round pick, according to NFL.com.

"He has the kind of size you want," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said during his network's broadcast. "He doesn't have the big arm. He can beat you rolling out, scrambling around, making some plays with his legs.

"When he was in that pro(-style) offense, he was a winning quarterback. I think he's a career backup. ... An insurance policy."

At some point Saturday, Beathard will likely see three former Hawkeye teammates selected. Cornerback Desmond King, defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson and tight end George Kittle are still waiting for their names to be called.

Eighteen cornerbacks were selected in the first three rounds, and none on them were the 2015 Jim Thorpe Award winner. King, a two-time all-American who returned to school for his senior season despite an eight-interception season as a junior, was projected to go as early as the second round.

The Hawkeyes' all-time leader in career starts (51) and No. 4 in interceptions (14) projects as either a cornerback or safety at the next level, with his excellent ball skills and sound tackling ability.

Johnson, a first-team all-Big Ten Conference performer last season, was expected to go in the third or fourth rounds. 

Kittle should be one of the next tight ends selected. Six tight ends have been chosen, and Pro Football Focus and NFL Network's Mike Mayock have him as the No. 5 overall player at his position.

Saturday's fourth through seventh rounds begin at 11 a.m. CT, with five minutes allowed per pick in Rounds 4-6 and four minutes in Round 7.