SANTA CLARA – Coach Kyle Shanahan describes rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard as a Type-A personality.
Yes, he is competitive, aggressive, ambitious and, perhaps, a bit impatient.
After practice on Thursday, Beathard was not real pleased with one play in particular. He had an open receiver, but his throw came up just a few inches short.
“I had a guy coming over on post-corner over the top, and it (the throw) was a bit low,” Beaathard said. “(Linebacker) Ray-Ray Armstrong made a great play. He tipped it up to himself and picked it off. If I’d just thrown it three inches higher it would’ve been a big play.”
On Friday, Beathard had a similar throw on a different play. This time, he got just enough air under the ball to direct it just a few inches over the reach of linebacker Reuben Foster and into the hands of rookie tight end Cole Hikutini for a gain of 30-plus yards.
“I’m as competitive as they come, whether it’s playing ping-pong in the locker room or whatever,” Beathard said. “Nothing makes me more made than making a mistake on the field. But at the same time, you have to know when to push things off and go on to the next play.”
Beathard came to the 49ers as a late-third-round draft pick. The 49ers traded up from the top of the fourth round to secure Beathard, who many believed would be a late-round selection.
“I think going into that process, I wasn’t too worried about it because I knew I’d get an opportunity, wherever that was.” Beathard said. “I love that they had the faith in me and saw in me what I see in myself. I want to prove this coaching staff right, that they made the right decision.”
Through the first week of camp, Beathard has looked like he belongs. His grandfather, Bobby Beathard, was a well-known NFL executive. And C.J. Beathard entered his first NFL training camp with the added advantage of playing under center during his college career at Iowa.
"He really works at it," Shanahan said. "He really grinds. He has a question for everything. He wants to know what you want him to do, but he also wants to know why. You can sit there and talk ball with him forever. That’s, to me, what allows him to have a chance to be good right away because he prepares the right way. So, when he goes out there, if you prepare the right way and you work at it, then you’re usually not as wide-eyed because you’re not overwhelmed with it."
Beathard has performed his way into competition with veteran Matt Barkley for the 49ers’ backup position behind no-questions-asked starter Brian Hoyer. Beathard seems to be a step ahead of most rookies -- and ahead of where the 49ers might have envisioned him when he arrived as the No. 104 selection.
"I think they’ve had even reps," Shanahan said of Beathard and Barkley after Saturday's practice. "I think it’s a good battle for us. We’ve been looking at it every day and they’re going to make it tough on us."
Not only is Beathard learning the playbook, he continues to ask the right questions to take his understanding to a higher level.
“You want to think as close along the lines as your head coach is thinking,” Beathard said. “So when I do make certain plays or certain reads, I always like to know what he was thinking because he plays every play out in his head as if he was playing. I like to know what he would’ve done so I can think like him, so we can be on the same page as much as possible.
“I’m picking things up and the game is slowing down for me.”