As if C.J. Beathard’s task of replacing the injured Jimmy Garoppolo as the San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback wasn’t difficult enough already, he’ll continue to do it behind an offensive line that is literally limping headed into this week.
Left tackle Joe Staley left Sunday’s 29-27 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in the second quarter, when Beathard was tackled into his knee by a blitzing safety Derwin James.
Staley, San Francisco’s All-Pro left tackle, was joined by the 49ers’ top draft pick in right tackle Mike McGlinchey, who left just before halftime, as well as center Weston Richburg. McGlinchey and Richburg returned in the second half, but all three are questionable for this week’s home tilt against the Arizona Cardinals.
“You’d always love to protect the quarterback,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan. “You want to try to win the game. I did not think we were running the ball well. I think we lost three O-linemen in that game, two tackles and a center. The center was able to come back and tough out through that game. That definitely affected him running the ball, trying to block [Chargers NT Brandon] Mebane and things like that.”
For Staley, the knee problem is nothing new, and thankfully for the 49ers, not long-term. He’s had trouble with his right knee over the last several years, but this injury has no ACL involvement, which at this point is a win for increasingly-wounded San Francisco.
The news on Monday didn’t get better for Beathard and San Francisco’s offense. Dante Pettis — the 49ers’ dynamic rookie receiver and returner out of Washington is out this week with a knee injury, and, Shanahan said, is week-to-week. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin will also be questionable. He’s dealt with quad issues all year, and is now dealing with thigh and hamstring issues.
With weakened protection and a lack of speed down field, Beathard had to hang on to the ball against the Chargers, and paid the price, taking three QB hits and taking off to run seven times, which added to the punishment.
“He did get hit a lot in the game yesterday,” Shanahan said. “There’s times that he can avoid it, and there’s times you can’t. You try to talk to him about those, get him to understand both of those.
“C.J.’s not trying to get hit. 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. But, there’s a time in the heat of battle that that’s tough to do.”
The more he plays, Shanahan said, the better he should get at avoiding contact. If he keeps taking beatings, San Francisco only has one more quarterback to play in Nick Mullens.
“We’ve got a bunch of situations we’re looking into,” said Shanahan, who worked out seven quarterbacks after Garoppolo tore his ACL against the Kansas City Chiefs. “Right now, I would love to answer the quarterback situation for everyone because you do want a third one in your building, whether that’s practice squad or on the roster. But, there’s a lot of things that are taking precedent right now.”
Those things would include both safeties (Adrian Colbert and Jaquiski Tartt are far from healthy), the offensive tackle situation, as well as finding a starting and backup X receiver, with Pettis out. Colbert played on special teams as he manages a hip injury (D.J. Reed started at free safety) and Tartt missed his second game in a row with a shoulder injury.
“It’s a real unusual roster situation where guys aren’t out enough to put them on IR and all of the guys, except for Pettis, are still questionable this week and I’d be surprised if they practice until Friday,” Shanahan said. “So, there’s a lot of stuff up in the air to where I really can’t answer that right now. We’ve got to see what happens.”
With Pettis out and Pierre Garcon dealing with a nagging angle (“I think he’ll be OK,” Shanahan said), san Francisco had to use Goodwin, Kendrick Bourne and Trent Taylor at the X at times on Sunday.
There could be a local solution if all three — Pettis, Garcon and Goodwin — can’t go against the Cardinals: Victor Bolden Jr. Bolden was suspended for the first four games of the season because of a violation of the league’s performance enhancing drug policy. The 49ers have a roster exemption for him, and do not have to make a roster move this week unless they decide to play him on Sunday. Otherwise, they’d have to make a decision by next Monday at 1 p.m.
“We’re going to see how these receivers go,” Shanahan said. “I know Vic could help us out whether we put him on practice squad or active roster. We’ve got to see how our X’s are. If we had to play today, we don’t have both of them just like we did in that game for a while.