The 49ers quarterback must have been exhausted following his afternoon of work on Sunday. C.J. Beathard? No, I’m talking about Jimmy Garoppolo. He didn’t play a snap in the Niners’ 20-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, just six days after they had acquired him in a trade. But the man never stopped fidgeting on the sidelines.
If anyone had taken the trouble to count Garoppolo’s practice throws during the game, Bruce Bochy probably would have sped to Levi’s Stadium and given him the hook midway through the third quarter.
And thanks to my powers of telepathy and the bruises on Beathard’s body, I can tell you exactly what Garoppolo was thinking during those three hours. When he lunged and bent while stretching an industrial rubber band around his legs, the former backup to Tom Brady was wondering what he had done to incur Bill Belichick’s wrath. When he got up for the 20th time to play toss, he was considering other lines of employment — TV analyst? Priest? Toothpaste model? And when Garoppolo and Beathard sat side by side on the 49ers bench and stared into their electronic tablets, the newcomer certainly must have been checking Orbitz for flights to Greece.
Nothing about Sunday’s loss could have made Garoppolo excited about playing for the 49ers. Teammates continued to fall like autumn leaves, as safety Jaquiski Tartt (broken hand) and fullback Kyle Juszcyk joined the injury list. The receivers dropped several balls, subverting any chance of finding rhythm on offense.
“It didn’t look like offensively any of us did very well,” head coach Kyle Shanahan noted.
Most egregious was the pounding Beathard took. He wasn’t an inexpensive NFL quarterback in this game, he was the world’s costliest tackling dummy. The Cardinals sacked him five times and hit him 16 times. Sixteen. I’m pretty sure there have been entire seasons when Brady wasn’t hit 16 times.
“I thought we should have had more,” Arizona coach Bruce Arians said after the game. “That was a beat-up offensive line, and God bless Beathard, he’s tough. He’s tough as nails and stood in there and threw the ball, because we hit him a bunch.”
The Cardinals decked him so many times that Beathard had trouble sorting through the wallops afterward. “Actually, the most painful hit wasn’t even really a hit,” he said. “It was when I was throwing, I hit somebody’s helmet with my thumb. That was the most painful thing. My neck got twisted around on the false start (on a different play). That one didn’t feel great.”
The most dramatic point of contact didn’t even show up in the Cardinals’ defensive statistics. When Beathard broke the pocket and ran for 10 yards with about 3½ minutes left, Arizona safety (and former Niner) Antoine Bethea drilled the quarterback around the chin as he slid.
Amazingly, Beathard did not submit to the violence. If anything, his poise galvanized his standing on the team. You could see that in the 49ers’ response to Bethea’s late hit. Several teammates jumped in to defend the quarterback. Running back Carlos Hyde was ejected for fighting.
Beathard was far from mistake-free, but his teammates recognized his resolve.
“I’m proud of him, how he has handled himself,” right guard Brandon Fusco said. “As an O-line, we haven’t done our job well enough.”