Given another opportunity, C.J. Beathard seems poised to seize the moment if Sunday’s performance was any indication. The second-year pro looked much improved from a season ago in his first start of the year Sunday against San Diego in relief of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, completing 23 of 37 passes for 298 yards for two touchdowns. Though Beathard was intercepted twice in the 29-27 loss, he found fellow Hawkeye George Kittle for an 83-yard touchdown pass — the NFL’s longest play from scrimmage this season.
Kittle finished with six receptions for a career-high 125 yards, pushing his season total to 316, a figure that ranks third among tight ends.
Beathard had to withstand pressure all day, taking one sack and seven other hits. He also had to be checked for a concussion following a hit on a fourth-quarter scramble.
As anyone who watched him play at Iowa can attest, Beathard isn’t afraid of putting his body on the line — sometimes to his detriment. Avoiding similar collisions wil be important for Beathard, especially behind a San Francisco line that allowed 13 sacks and nine hits to Garoppolo already this season.
“C.J.’s not trying to get hit,” coach Mike Shanahan told The Athletic. “He’s just trying to play the way he’s always played and he’s trying as hard as he can to win. But he’s got to understand when he has a chance to avoid those and when doesn’t and when he can recognize those to take care of himself, which I know he wants to do.”
Greg Mabin also made an impact in the 49ers’ secondary, forcing a fumble by Melvin Gordon and limiting opposing quarterback Philip Rivers to a 50.4 passer rating over the five times he targeted Mabin’s assignment.
Mabin’s performance earned him a spot on Pro Football Focus’s Team of the Week and had caught Shanahan’s attention in practice in recent weeks.
“We had a plan to put Mabin in going in,” Shanahan said. “It was more about Mabin and how he has been practicing the last couple of weeks. He had a great week at practice and we thought he deserved it. We planned on him going in the game spelling Ahkello Witherspoon inward a little bit. When he did go in and got his opportunity, he was playing at a pretty high level so we kept him in.”
Beathard and San Francisco figure to have a good shot to bounce back next week at home against the winless Arizona Cardinals, who have scored the fewest points in the NFL.
Desmond King, Chargers
Another Hawkeye capitalizing on their opportunity Sunday was Desmond King on the other side of the same field. With Travis Benjamin sidelined due to injury, King assumed punt return duties for the Chargers and dazzled on a 56-yard return that nearly resulted in a touchdown before he was tripped up by the punter.
Desmond King said he should’ve trusted his speed on his huge punt return. Instead he tried to juke the 49ers punter. Bradley Pinion JUST trips him up. pic.twitter.com/WTl29cuGiu— Ryan Kartje (@Ryan_Kartje) October 1, 2018
King, who averaged 11.2 yards on 45 career punt returns at Iowa, finished with 82 yards on four returns Sunday, in addition to making two tackles.
“I think it’s important for a returner to get into a rhythm,” Los Angeles coach Anthony Lynn said. “Desmond averaged 20.5 yards per carry last night as a returner. I think he’s in a pretty good rhythm right now, so I don’t want to disrupt that.”
Elsewhere, King’s heir at Iowa, Josh Jackson, recorded five tackles and two passes defensed in Green Bay’s 22-0 win against the Bills. Less than stellar news was reported on the other side with Buffalo’s Micah Hyde leaving in the first quarter due to a groin injury. Coach Sean McDermott described him as “week-to-week.”
Earlier in the week, Buffalo post a fun video feature on Hyde.
Second-round pick James Daniels saw his most extensive action yet with the Bears, alternating series at left guard with incumbent Eric Kush. Daniels ultimately played 27 snaps compared to Kush’s 37 in the Bears’ 48-10 drubbing of Tampa Bay.