SANTA CLARA — The 49ers plan to start C.J. Beathard at quarterback Sunday against the New York Giants, but that plan could change if Jimmy Garoppolo plays well during practice this week. Kyle Shanahan confirmed this at his Wednesday press conference.
“I’m committed to C.J. starting right now,” Shanahan said. “He’s going to get all the reps as the starting quarterback right now when we go out to practice. But we’ve had guys being the starters at certain positions on Wednesday, Thursday and based on how they practice we change that on Friday.
“I’m not trying to lead you guys on to anything. I really feel the exact same as I felt last week. I know for obvious reasons, Jimmy is further along than he was last week. I plan on going with C.J. and we’ll see how practice goes.”
Shanahan said the 49ers considered activating practice squad quarterback Nick Mullens last week so he could back up Beathard when the 49ers played the Arizona Cardinals. But Garoppolo made big strides learning the playbook and the team felt he could run roughly 45 plays had he gone in the game.
“If C.J. would have gone down, you guys would have saw me rip up my call sheet and you would have saw another call sheet come from someone and hand it to me and I would have gone with what (Jimmy) knows. That’s what he was prepared to do.”
Garoppolo has been cramming to learn the playbook as fast as possible since he arrived in Santa Clara a week ago.
“I try to get in here as early as possible,” Garoppolo said at his locker on Wednesday. “Getting the car rental helped out. They were giving me rides and everything in the first week. I stay here as late as I need to, try to get as much sleep, but sleep has been tough to get lately.
“I’m eager. Coach has a good plan set up, though. Whatever he wants, I’ll be ready to perform.”
Shanahan is eager to play Garoppolo as soon as possible, too.
“That doesn’t always mean that’s the right decision,” Shanahan said. “That’s what I’m trying to balance out. If I just went off impulse and feeling, I would have done that the very first day, the very first second. But I’m trying to do what’s right for Jimmy and what’s right for our team.
“A lot more things go into that and it’s not something I can set a date on or a plan. It’s something that I have to evaluate. And there’s a lot more decisions to that than just can he spit out the play. How’s he doing? Is he comfortable in there? Does he have a chance to run the offense?”
Does the pass protection factor into the decision of when to play Garoppolo? Beathard got hit 20 times last Sunday against Cardinals.
“It all factors in,” Shanahan said. “I don’t want Jimmy to take all those shots.”
Last week, Shanahan said the 49ers traded for Garoppolo not to save their season, but to secure their future at quarterback. So what do the 49ers stand to gain if they play him on Sunday?