49ers make change at quarterback to once again lose by small margin

Santa Clara lost another football game on Sunday, but in the big picture, they might have gained something far, far better.

Their future back-up quarterback perhaps?

After Tryin’ Brian Hoyer mailed one in at FedExField in Washington D.C., rookie C.J. Beathard rallied his team from a 17-zip deficit. Washington survived the scare, 26-24, but it shouldn’t take a genius like coach Kyle Shanahan to realize that he deserved to start next weekend if not permanently.

In little more than two quarters, Beathard completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards and one touchdown. He also threw an interception on his final play of the game. Not Montana-like numbers exactly, but consider that he had taken all of one snap in the regular season, and the kid did good.

Or to put it another way, the offense scored more points with Beathard behind center than Hoyer had produced in all except one of his other five starts.

“He came in and competed,” Shanahan said afterward. “By no means were things perfect, but the game’s not too big for the guy. He comes in, doesn’t hesitate, is extremely thorough.”

Shanahan watched the same game as the rest of us. Hey, that’s a start.

Hoyer was brutal in four possessions — punt, punt, punt, punt. There were errant throws. Late throws. Dumb throws like a 7-yarder on third-and-8. Dropped throws. No throws. The $6-million bust completed four passes in 11 attempts for 34 yards and was sacked once.

At that point, Shanahan completed concussion protocol, apparently. Finally, he called Beathard out of the bullpen, a move that should have been made weeks ago.

Predictably, Beathard look out of sorts at the outset. It didn’t help that tight end George Kittle dropped two passes, which was no way for one Iowa guy to treat another.

But on his second drive, Beathard settled down and guided the offense to the end zone. Sure, the 11-play, 75-yard march came against a soft zone just before halftime, but any touchdown was a minor miracle for this motley crew.

As the game progressed, one sensed the offense had gained some desperately needed confidence.

LIKE OLD TIMES: Santa Clara was within a short pass completion of a field goal attempt in the final seconds, only to have ex-Redskin Pierre Garcon commit a killer pass interference penalty. Otherwise, the veteran wide receiver had a rather quiet day — five catches and 55 yards on a dozen targets.

REST OF THE STORY: So maybe, just maybe the youth movement has begun in earnest.

But if general manager John Lynch plans to cut the cord with the old guard, then he has to get as much back as possible. He’s in no position to give away veterans such as linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who was allowed to become a free agent at his request last week.

At 29, Bowman ain’t what he used to be. Hey, who among us is? But the guy still has value, as evidenced by the several teams that inquired about him. One reportedly offered a seventh-round draft pick, and Lynch should have held out for more.

OH, THOSE WACKY BEARS: Has there ever been a stranger Friday the 13th game than the other night in Berkeley?

Cal whipped No. 8 Washington State, 37-6, whipped the Cougars but good. Somehow, the Bears forced seven turnovers as 16.5-point underdogs on the heels of a 38-7 meltdown at Washington a week earlier. The Bears had beaten a top 10 opponent exactly one time in the last 39 years.

Quarterback Ross Bowers scored on one of the plays of this or any other year when he was flipped heels over helmet at the 1-yard line then came down in the end zone. He would have stuck the landing if a defender hadn’t been underneath him.

“I didn’t think I could go left or right, so why not over the top?” Bowers explained.

Yeah, why not?

Oh, and Klay Thompson watched the carnage on the home sideline in the second half, a remarkable feat given that his Warriors were in the midst of a preseason game at Oracle Arena at the same time. Seems that Thompson blew off the last two quarters to check out his old Washington State team.

Other than that, it was your typical college football game.

MOVIN’ ON UP: Suddenly, almost all is right in Palo Alto with its football team.

Stanford likely cracked the top 20 by virtue of a 49-7 romp over Oregon on Saturday. Better yet, both Washington schools were upset, which left the Cardinal atop the Pac-12 North by a half game.

Even the not-so-good news may not be as bad as it could be.

Bryce Love ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns before he tweaked an ankle early and sat out most of the second half. Fortunately, the Cardinal have a bye this week, which will give their most valuable player some time to get well again.

JUST SAYIN’: Giants television ratings plummeted 28 percent this season, the third-largest drop in the major leagues. So, yeah, it appears the grace period is o-vah.

The final four in the MLB playoffs rank first, second, sixth and eighth in payroll, but my baseball friends assure me that money has absolutely nothin’ to do with it.

Don’t like the Los Angeles Dodgers’ post-season chances nearly as much with injured Corey Seager off the roster.

The final game of the NLCS lasted nine innings and nearly 4.5 hours. Give commish Rob Manfred some time. He’s still workin’ on it.

YOUR TURN: “At this point, the national anthem protest has turned into a circus. Despite his glaring naivete with respect to American politics and world history, Colin Kaepernick had legitimate reasons for his original protest. But by now, the whole affair has degenerated into yet another polarizing us-versus-them standoff.” — Aruna Ranaweera, San Francisco

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