San Francisco 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard is officially questionable headed into Thursday night’s primetime match-up against the Oakland Raiders, the team announced on Wednesday.
Beathard, who struck his right hand and wrist against the helmet of an oncoming defender during San Francisco’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, had his hand wrapped in a soft cast on Tuesday, and said he’d make a go of practicing Wednesday during the team’s tempo walkthrough. He was limited, according to a team release.
“Somebody came through the middle, I was throwing to Dante [Pettis] across the middle, and I got hit as I was throwing it, on a guy’s helmet,” Beathard said Tuesday. Then asked if he would play Thursday, Beathard said, “I’m hoping so, yeah.”
This season, the 49ers are third in the NFL in the most QB hits allowed (61). Beathard, who has thrown for 1,252 yards on 102-of-169 passing (60.4 percent) has been sacked 18 times in six games so far this season. He was sacked 19 times in seven games in 2017. He has never had an injury on the wrist or thumb of his throwing hand, and on Tuesday, had trouble gripping a football.
Joining Beathard on the questionable list are running back Matt Breida (ankle), wide receiver Pierre Garçon (shoulder, knee), running back Raheem Mostert (ankle), center Weston Richburg (knee) and cornerback Richard Sherman (calf, heel).
Sherman intimated last week that he may not be able to play this week — “That’s a big question for me,” he said — and while the eighth-year veteran corner has play time incentives in his self-negotiated three-year deal, he’s already assured not to hit the biggest one, so resting may not be out of the question. Sherman’s deal has a base salary of $2 million and a $2 million roster bonus for the season. Since he’s already almost assured to not hit the 90 percent of San Francisco’s defensive snaps after missing two games, he won’t earn the $1 million incentive tied to that figure, making him unlikely to play this Thursday after playing all 66 defensive snaps on Sunday. For every game he misses, he also misses out on a $125,000 per-game roster bonus.
“At this point, it’s going to be one of those things you try to manage as best you can,” Sherman said on Oct. 25. “You try to get through the week, try to find a schedule that can get me through the week.”
Earlier in the week, San Francisco also waived cornerback Greg Mabin and wide receiver Victor Bolden. They have until 1 p.m. on Thursday before they can make any more roster moves, and given the fact that safety Antone Exum (concussion), linebacker Reuben Foster (hamstring) and safety Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder) have all been ruled out for Thursday, it’s likely that they will activate one or both of safety Marcell Harris and linebacker/defensive end Dekoda Watson, who practiced in full on Wednesday.
“Dekoda is out there practicing. We don’t have to make [a decision] this week, but we can do that by Thursday,” Shanahan said. “We’ll see how these walk-throughs go and what our roster is like. To get both of those guys up, we’ve got to let people go, too. So, it’s a huge dilemma when you’ve got a number of guys down that might not play. If you can’t put them on IR, you’ve got to cut people to put people up. So, all this stuff kind of plays into that. Not just where Dekoda and Marcell are at.”
Given that Tartt and Exum are now both ruled out, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said that Tyvis Powell would get the start at strong safety, with Harris being the first man off the bench. Linebacker could get a bit more complicated. Malcolm Smith is currently playing the SAM position, but with Foster down, he may move back to the WILL. If that happens, Watson could easily slot in at the SAM, with Elijah Lee also remaining an option at the WILL, as well. Lee, in fact, moved in to the WILL after Foster went down on Sunday, with Smith taking reps later on in the game. Mark Nzeocha is also an option for the WILL.