SANTA CLARA — C.J. Beathard’s right wrist hurts.
It’s not injured. X-rays revealed no broken bones. And head coach Kyle Shanahan said Beathard could play in the 49ers’ next game if it were Sunday.
But it’s not Sunday. It’s Thursday night, three days earlier than usual, against the Oakland Raiders. And Beathard may not feel ready to play by then. Or, Shanahan may not want him to play.
“He’s struggling today to hold a ball,” Shanahan said Tuesday about Beathard. “It’s going to be a test for (him to play) Thursday. We probably won’t know until then.”
Beathard made his condition sound less severe, although the wrist on his throwing hand was heavily taped. “My wrist and thumb are kind of messed up,” he explained Tuesday. “It’s two days after the game. Hopefully, tomorrow it will feel a lot better.”
Beathard did not practice Tuesday. He hurt his wrist on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals with 8:42 left in the second quarter. During the play, Cardinals linebacker Josh Bynes blitzed through the middle of the 49ers’ offensive line, and no one blocked him.
Beathard hung tough in the pocket, and delivered a throw over the middle just as Bynes ran through him and drove him to the turf. As Beathard followed through, his right wrist hit Bynes’ helmet, and the pass bounced incomplete.
Beathard sat on the ground for a second or two after the play. He examined his right wrist, squeezed his right hand a couple times, got up, shook it off and played the rest of the game.
“I felt it when it happened,” Beathard said. “But, with adrenaline going, I don’t think it was affecting the way I was throwing the ball.”
On Tuesday, a reporter asked Shanahan if he knew during the game that Beathard’s wrist hurt.
“After,” Shanahan said.
It was news to him.
Beathard did not play well before or after he hurt his wrist. He held the ball too long in the pocket, hesitated when he threw, took four sacks and completed just 50 percent of his passes.
Beathard now has started 10 games during his career. His win-loss record is 1-9, his quarterback rating is just 74.6 and he has committed 18 turnovers.
Backup quarterback Nick Mullens will start Thursday against the Raiders if Beathard doesn’t play. Like Beathard, Mullens is in his second season. The 49ers signed Mullens as an undrafted free agent in 2017, and he spent his rookie season on the practice squad. He never has played a regular-season NFL game.
Is he ready?
“As ready as you can be,” Shanahan said. “Nick’s a very smart guy who works nonstop. He’ll be able to go in there and execute the offense. He knows what he’s doing.”
But does he know the entire playbook? Shanahan’s playbook famously is one of the biggest and most complex in the NFL.
“Yes,” Shanahan said. “He has been here for a year and a half, the whole time we’ve been here. So, Nick’s as prepared to call the plays and get everyone in the right spots as anyone we could have out there.”
Mullens performed well during the preseason. He even outplayed Beathard. Mullens’ quarterback rating was 79.2, while Beathard’s was 74.8.
“(Mullens) did good,” Shanahan said. “Nick comes in there, moves the chains, competes hard, makes some plays with his legs and his arm. Guys believe in him and he’s as competitive and confident as any guy I’ve been around. If he needs to play this week, he’ll be on it.”