Welcome to Bad Quarterback Performance Of The Week, a recurring feature in which we celebrate the worst quarterback play the NFL has to offer.
The San Francisco 49ers are gross and they disgust me. Here is a team that scores 16.6 points per game and features one of the least ambitious offenses in the league. The Niners love nothing more than a futile checkdown, which is how they’ve managed to average a piddling six yards per attempt this season. Somehow, even with this addiction to going short, the team has completed just 56.2 percent of its passes; only the Browns are worse. This is what shitty football looks like.
When we last checked in with the Niners, it was Brian Hoyer entrusted with firing this pop gun at defenses. Hoyer was later benched, and has now been released to make room for the freshly acquired Jimmy Garoppolo (more on that later). The arrival of Garoppolo also means it’s the end of the line for rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard, who replaced Hoyer and started the last two games.
Sunday’s loss to the Eagles was not a good game for Beathard to go out on. He completed just 17 of his 36 very short pass attempts, for a total of 167 yards. He did manage one touchdown, but also tossed two picks. Beyond that, he made some throws that I’m still struggling to understand. What’s going on here?
Despite these awful throws, Beathard is not solely responsible for the ass-kicking the Niners endured on Sunday. Again, this is an offensive scheme designed to suck the soul out of fans, one five-yard checkdown at a time. Only two 49ers wide receivers—Trent Taylor and Pierre Garcon—were even targeted during the game, and they got a combined seven balls thrown at them.
What Beathard is responsible for is not even being able to execute his team’s rudimentary scheme. He spent most of the game checking down to running back Carlos Hyde, but even those simple pitches and catches posed problems. This pass, which was actually completed, is representative:
Hyde had about eight yards of space between himself and the nearest defender, and could have easily turned the corner and gotten up the sideline if Beathard had been able to hit him in stride. Instead, he had to stop to catch an under-thrown ball, which caused him to stumble, which caused him to get his goddamn neck crunched. Hyde spent the afternoon dealing with shit like this.
The few throws that went longer didn’t yield much better results:
Okay, this one was obviously the result of a blown audible, but it’s still a fun visual:
This is who Jimmy Garoppolo, himself a backup quarterback, is coming to save Niners fans from. San Francisco got him in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick—certainly nothing to scoff at—and in the context of an NFL ecosystem that is starved for functioning quarterbacks, the deal makes sense. Even the idea of a halfway decent quarterback is worth a second-round pick.
But taken in a wider context that we might call Things We’ve Generally Learned To Be True About Sports, isn’t it pretty goddamn crazy that Jimmy Garoppolo is a hot ticket? This is a 25-year-old backup who has made two starts and thrown 94 total passes during three seasons in the league. He filled in admirably while starting in place of Brady last season, but Matt Cassel has pulled the same trick before. Let’s not even talk about Matt Flynn.
What the hell kind of sport is this, anyway? It’s one in which the San Francisco 49ers, having played enough miserable football to achieve an 0-8 record, have paid a high price for a solution—the best one available to them! One that probably makes many other teams very jealous!—in the form of some fucking guy who hasn’t even thrown 100 NFL passes.