Former Hawkeye C.J. Beathard named 49ers starting quarterback after strong game vs. Redskins

Tyler J Davis
Hawk Central

That didn't take long. 

Shortly after former Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard nearly led the San Francisco 49ers to a comeback win on the road Sunday, head coach Kyle Shanahan announced that the rookie would be the team's new starter.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard (3) scrambles with the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

Beathard finished the relief appearance 19-for-36 passing for 245 yards, one touchdown and an interception on a fourth-down heave with 9 seconds to play in the game. His score in the 26-24 Redskins win was a 45-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson. He also connected twice with fellow former Hawkeye George Kittle — a 25-yarder and a 1-yarder.

“It’s something you dream about as a kid, going in and playing your first NFL game,” Beathard said. “It was cool.”

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) talks with San Francisco 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard (3) after their game at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 26-24.

His coach said the 23-year-old rookie had put in enough good weeks of practice to justify getting some game action.

"By no means were things perfect, but the game isn't too big for the guy," Shanahan said after the game. "He comes in and doesn't hesitate. He's extremely tough. He came in there and gave us a little spark."

Here's what Beathard had to say after throwing his first passes in the NFL:

The rookie quarterback made a nail-biter out of what appeared to be an easy win for Washington.

After entering the game with San Fran trailing 17-0 in the second quarter, Beathard immediately led a two-minute drill drive, ending with a Carlos Hyde touchdown that cut the Washington lead to 17-7. San Francisco kept the former Iowa signal caller in for the full second half; it outscored the Redskins, 24-9, with Beathard playing.

And had this penalty not been called, the 49ers would have been close to kicker Robbie Gould's field-goal range and an opportunity to take a late lead in Washington.

San Francisco fans and media immediately praised Beathard, who replaced Brian Hoyer, for his poise and performance. Hoyer, a nine-year journeyman QB, amassed 1,211 passing yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions while leading the 49ers to five straight losses to start the season.

Beathard, a third-round draft pick by Shanahan and the 49ers, signed a four-year contract with the club in summer. The old Iowa captain came into the 2017 season as the third-string passer, but supplanted former Southern Cal star Matt Barkley as the primary back-up during training camp.

Beathard (6-foot-2, 219 pounds) had a 21-7 record while throwing for 40 touchdown passes and more than 5,500 yards as a starter for the black-and-gold.

John Lynch, the 49ers general manager, has raved about Beathard's physical tools and toughness in the past.

“Aside from the talent, in tight spaces and in tight windows, he can really rip the ball," Lynch said in an interview a couple weeks after the NFL Draft. "But I think his toughness speaks to me and Kyle. This is a guy that will get hit, stand up — and that seems to be a quality all the great ones have."

While Lynch was high enough on Beathard to trade up to select him, others saw him as a No. 2 option in the NFL.

"When he was in that pro(-style) offense, he was a winning quarterback," said ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. "I think he's a career backup. ... An insurance policy."

For now, Beathard will get his shot to start games, and it's a long time coming for Iowa fans.

More:C.J. Beathard becomes a father

The last Hawkeye QB to throw a pass in an NFL game was Dan McGwire, who attempted one in 1995 with the Miami Dolphins. McGwire played sparingly in two seasons at Iowa (1986, '87) before transferring to San Diego State, where he became a first-round NFL Draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks.