49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead this week described the way new coach Kyle Shanahan operates.
“It’s kind of like genius crazy, the stuff he does,” Armstead said. “It’s like, wow, he’s that detailed. (He) knows so much about football, you got to have an insane, kind of crazy passion for it. And I think he does and I think that’s what makes him a good coach.”
Perhaps the latest example of Shanahan’s “genius crazy” (crazy is a noun, in this case) was his first draft pick at quarterback as coach of his new team.
Shanahan, out of nowhere, tapped Iowa’s C.J. Beathard with a compensatory pick late in the third round as Day 2 of the draft ended, despite many draft prognosticators expecting Beathard to go during the final four rounds on Day 3.
Beathard was the sixth quarterback selected, while more notable names like Nathan Peterman (Pittsburgh), Brad Kaaya (Miami) and Josh Dobbs (Tennessee) remain on the board with the fourth round starting Saturday morning. A plus for Beathard was playing in a pro-style offense for coach Kirk Ferentz.
Beathard (6-2, 219) was a fifth-year senior at Iowa that started the last two seasons. His best year came in 2015 when he led Iowa to a 12-2 finish and a Rose Bowl appearance, a 45-16 loss to Stanford.
Beathard’s numbers last season dropped precipitously after the team around him declined. But Shanahan didn’t forget his junior campaign despite Beathard’s completion rate dropping to 56.5 percent from 61.6 and his interceptions climbing to 10 from five. The Hawkeyes went 8-5 in 2016.
“I just saw him battle through adversity,” Shanahan said. “You look at the numbers and they weren’t the same as the previous year. But numbers are something I very rarely look at.
“Just because there’s an incompletion, just because you don’t get the touchdown, it doesn’t always mean it’s the quarterback’s fault. You got to watch to make sure people are getting open, how the rhythm of the offense is, the protections and the receivers. Are guys separating for him? And what are they asking him to do? How goes good does he do that?
“You go through an entire game, and how good does he do his job? I think he does his job very well. I think he gives his team a very good chance to win. I think he showed that a lot more in 2015 when his team had a lot more opportunities to win.”
Shanahan said Beathard is expected to come in and develop while he proclaimed Brian Hoyer as the likely starter and Matt Barkley his likely backup.
General manager John Lynch gave Shanahan autonomy in choosing his quarterback given his impressive track record developing the position. Shanahan was the one who pushed Washington to draft Kirk Cousins in Washington in 2012, despite the team moving up to the second-overall pick to take Robert Griffin III.