49ers offense making strides under CJ Beathard
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — C.J. Beathard went toe-to-toe with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay for nearly 60 minutes before the San Francisco 49ers fell just short at the end of another tough loss.
Despite playing with a backup quarterback with starter Jimmy Garoppolo sidelined for the season, the 49ers offense has shown signs of being productive of late even if it hasn't led to wins.
The 49ers (1-5) have gained 400 yards in back-to-back games under Beathard but are still seeking their second win in the past two seasons without Garoppolo starting thanks in part to eight turnovers and a few other crucial mistakes in those games.
"I thought C.J. did some real good things. C.J., he was one of the reasons that I thought we had a chance to win that game," coach Kyle Shanahan said. "He made some big plays throughout the game, kept the chains moving a number of times for us. There's a couple of plays at the end that I know he'd like to have back where he had a couple of opportunities that he missed. But, he also had a few opportunities early in the game that he made, which was one of the reasons we were in the position that we were. By no means was it perfect, but I was happy with how he played."
Beathard has completed 64 percent of his passes for 892 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions in three games since Garoppolo got injured. Those are all big improvements over his performance in five starts last year before Garoppolo took over.
His best play might have come in the first three-plus quarters in Green Bay in a performance the Niners hope they can build on this week when they host the Los Angeles Rams (6-0).
The Niners scored on six of their first eight drives against the Packers, with just one punt and one fumble by Kyle Juszczyk being the only unproductive offensive possessions.
But the offense faltered late and was unable to close the game out. The Niners went three-and-out on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter, setting the stage for Rodgers to lead a game-tying touchdown drive.
San Francisco still had a chance to win it, taking over at its own 47 with 1:49 to go in a tie game. Beathard completed a 7-yard pass to George Kittle on first down but then had a pass batted down at the line on second down before taking a deep strike against the blitz on third down.
The pass was intercepted by Kevin King, setting the stage for Rodgers to lead the game-winning drive. Shanahan said that wasn't the option he wanted on the play, although Beathard said Tuesday that he didn't know if he had a better choice.
"Obviously it didn't work so it's tough," he said. "Say you hit it, it's a good play. But, when you don't, it's not. And it was not a good play."
Marquise Goodwin's speed provided a major boost to the offense earlier in the game. He hurt his hamstring while playing just 15 snaps in the opener before missing the second game. He played Week 3 against Kansas City before getting hurt again the following week.
He finally was fully healthy against the Packers and delivered four catches for 126 yards, including touchdowns of 67 and 30 yards in the first half. Perhaps even more importantly, his sprinter's speed forces defenses to provide help in coverage, opening up holes in the running game and opportunities for other receivers.
"When you have somebody who can take the top shelf off the coverage, that backs people up, it opens up everything," Rams coach Sean McVay said. "It opens up your intermediate throws on the three-level game. It opens some of your quicker-hitting play-actions. It loosens things up for the run game and most important it gives you a dynamic playmaker who can create explosives."
The running game fared well against the Packers, gaining 174 yards on 30 carries. Raheem Mostert made the most of his most extensive playing time in four years as a pro, gaining 87 yards on 12 carries.
But San Francisco was unable to generate a first down on the ground when the game was on the line.
"I left a lot of yards out on the field, especially with my speed," Mostert said. "I feel I could have got to the edge a little faster. I watched the film and I was really hard on myself. Even though I had some good runs, I had some real busts, too."
NOTES: S Marcell Harris had his window to resume practice opened. He has been on IR all season as he recovers from a hamstring injury. He is eligible to return to play Nov. 1 against Oakland. ... The Niners signed DL Ryan Delaire and TE Cole Wick to the practice squad.
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