In general, San Francisco quarterbacks have not fared well against the Seahawks since Pete Carroll became the coach.
And passers seeing Seattle’s defense for the first time? The 49ers are 0-4 in those games started by Alex Smith (2010), Colin Kaepernick (2012), Blaine Gabbert (2015) and Brian Hoyer (earlier matchup this season).
So on Wednesday, first-year 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan did not make the Seahawks play the waiting game on who would start against them Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
It will be the guy who just led the team to its first victory of the season Nov. 12 – rookie C.J. Beathard.
The news came as mildly surprising given that the 49ers traded for Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo in late October to be their quarterback of the future.
But as Shanahan noted Wednesday during his teleconference with Seattle media, making that switch coming off the team’s victory over the New York Giants just didn’t seem like the right thing to do.
“That is not something I would do to our team, or Jimmy, or C.J. at this moment,” Shanahan said.
So, what should the Seahawks expect from Beathard, the third-rounder out of Iowa?
He flashes both a bigger arm and a better ability to scramble for important yards over Hoyer, whom he replaced during the 49ers’ 26-24 loss at Washington on Oct. 15.
“He has made some plays,” Seahawks All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “He is trying to run the ball a little more getting out of the pocket. We have to be ready for it.”
But Beathard has turned the ball over at least once in San Francisco’s past five games – and threw two interceptions against Philadelphia and fumbled twice against Dallas.
Seattle ranks in the top 10 in the NFL with its 16 takeaways this season.
“They play such sound, good zone defense that it is going to be extremely hard for any rookie ... or any quarterback in this league (to deal with),” Shanahan said.
“You’ve got to be smart in what you do. You can’t be conservative – if you see something, you can’t hesitate and let it rip – but you also have to understand they are going to have their times when the pressure gets to you, and you are not going to be able to do anything about it. You’ve got to make sure and not turn it over.”
Beathard will be the ninth rookie quarterback to start against Seattle in the Carroll era. Only Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton has emerged victorious in his first start against this defense in 2011.
“If we play good, I don’t think it matters if ... is the first time, second time or what,” Wagner said. “If we run our stuff, and do the things we need to do, people struggle.”