SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Jimmy Garoppolo’s 49ers debut was never drawn up like this.
San Francisco preferred to groom him for 2018, giving Tom Brady’s former backup time to get comfortable in a new system, not take chances with the promising young quarterback in a lost season.
Then C.J. Beathard went down with a left leg injury late in the game Sunday, a game that was all but over and had only 1:07 left in an eventual 24-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The score would have been worse without his big arm.
There came Garoppolo in far-from-ideal circumstances. He provided a tiny glimpse of hope in those 67 seconds for the franchise as the 49ers’ record fell to 1-10.
Garoppolo, acquired from New England at the trade deadline last month, immediately scrambled to gain 4 yards and found Louis Murphy for a 10-yard touchdown as time expired.
“There’s never an easy situation to go into,” Garoppolo said. “Being the backup, I’ve experienced both ends of it. But you always have to be ready. I’ve been saying it the last four years. You never know when your time is going to come, if it’s going to come. So when it does, you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
It’s unclear who will be under center come next Sunday at Chicago. Coach Kyle Shanahan said neither Garoppolo’s impressive short stint nor how Beathard has performed will necessarily factor into any decision ahead of facing the Bears.
“I just said we’re going to watch the tape, see how guys feel,” Shanahan said. “We’ll work with him Monday and Tuesday and then put a game plan together and see what we decide for Wednesday.”
Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett certainly had no interest in seeing Garoppolo on the field any sooner. They’re friends, too.
“I know Jimmy pretty well,” Bennett said. “You see automatically that spark he gave. You play behind Tom Brady you start picking up knowledge of the game because you’re talking to Tom, he’s showing you so many different things and so I feel like he’s poised to be a great player in this league. Like I told him, I look forward to playing against him next season. I’m glad they didn’t put him earlier. I think they’re protecting their investment. This is a down season for them. How many games have they won — 1-10. To put that much money into a quarterback, it’s a great business move to not force him out there when you can just let him go and come back next season.”
Beathard will undergo an MRI on Monday and said both his left knee and hip were ailing.
“It may just be a bruise to the knee. You don’t know,” he said. “I’m trying to get back out there as soon as possible. Obviously, I don’t think anything’s torn or anything like that. It doesn’t feel like it.”
Beathard was 22 of 38 for 201 yards before the injury.
“I thought it was pretty rude for the fans to cheer that the other guy got hurt,” Bennett said.