After six losses to start the season, the San Francisco 49ers have decided it’s time to look to their future and turn things over to rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard, a third-round selection out of Iowa. Beathard will replace Brian Hoyer as the starter after coming in for Hoyer in the 49ers’ loss in Week 6 against the Washington Redskins.
The 49ers have won just seven of their past 39 games entering Beathard’s first NFL start against the Dallas Cowboys, and they’re hoping that the rookie can be the start of getting a once-proud franchise moving back in the right direction.
Here are five things you need to know about Beathard.
1. He Won His First 12 Games at Iowa
Beathard is no stranger to big moments. When he became the starter for the Hawkeyes in 2015 with Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz fielding questions about his job security, he promptly stepped in and led Iowa to 12 consecutive victories to start the season, delighting Iowa fans and ending any talk about Ferentz being bought out of his contract as soon as Iowa could afford it.
In two years as a starter, Beathard went 20-7 and helped the Hawkeyes reach what is to date their only appearance in the Big Ten championship game. Among his successes was a win over then-No. 2 Michigan in his senior year, denying the Wolverines a shot at a perfect season and ultimately costing them a shot at the Big Ten championship with a 14-13 victory in Iowa City. Overall, Beathard showed great vision and decision-making during his time with the Hawkeyes, tossing 40 touchdowns against just 17 interceptions.
2. He’s The First Iowa Quarterback to Start in the NFL in His Lifetime
Beathard was born in 1993, two years after Mark Vlasic last started for the Kansas City Chiefs. Since then, Iowa hasn’t exactly been known as a haven for NFL quarterbacks.
The Hawkeyes have consistently been winners in the majority of Ferentz’s tenure in Iowa City, but for the most part, it hasn’t been with NFL talent under center. Since Vlasic was drafted in 1987, only Beathard and Ricky Stanzi have been selected at quarterback from Iowa. Stanzi’s NFL career came and went without him ever throwing a pass in the regular season, and he ended up moving to the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.
Beathard represents the best quarterback prospect to come out of Iowa in Ferentz’s tenure. He was drafted in the third round by San Francisco, making him the highest-drafted Hawkeye quarterback since Chuck Long in 1986.
3. He and His Father are Songwriters
C.J. Beathard grew up near Nashville because of his father’s career. Casey Beathard is a songwriter for some of the top artists on the country music scene, and C.J. inherited some of that talent. While growing up, C.J. and his brothers Clay and Tucker formed a band and played at small events in their community. Even though Tucker is the one who chose to pursue a music career, C.J. was the one who wrote the majority of the group’s songs.
There’s no word on how he compares as a writer to his father, but Casey Beathard is one of the best in the business. He’s a two-time winner of Broadcast Music’s Songwriter of the Year Award, having won the award in 2004 and 2008. Among his No. 1 hits are Tracy Byrd’s “Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo”, Tracy Lawrence’s “Find Out Who Your Friends Are”, Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink” and “The Boys of Fall” and Rodney Atkins’ “Cleaning This Gun”. Casey Beathard has actually been a mirror image of C.J. in terms of their skills and career choices, as Casey was a star quarterback in high school before choosing music over football for his career.
4. His Grandfather Was a Football Executive
If Beathard’s last name sounds familiar, it’s because his grandfather is well known as one of the best talent evaluators in NFL history. Bobby Beathard started as an AFL scout for the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1960s, but it was his time with Miami, Washington and San Diego that he’s best known for. In his first year as the Dolphins’ director of player personnel, Miami completed the NFL’s only perfect season, beating Washington to win Super Bowl VII.
After two Super Bowl victories with Miami, Beathard would join with Joe Gibbs in Washington as the Redskins’ general manager and construct a roster that won Super Bowls in 1982 and 1987. Beathard was so good at putting together a roster that he and Gibbs managed to cobble together a team of replacement players that went 3-0 during the 1987 strike. Beathard finished his career by spending nearly a decade in San Diego and helping the Chargers reach their only Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.
Football has long been a part of the Beathard family. C.J. Beathard’s great uncle Pete was a quarterback in the NFL for four different teams, while his uncle Kurt served as the offensive coordinator for Illinois State through 2016.
5. He’s Hung Out With Taylor Swift
Swift is just one of the big names that Beathard has been around all of his life, thanks to his father and his grandfather’s career choices. With his father spending his time at the homes of country music stars to collaborate on songwriting ideas, C.J. Beathard often found himself tagging along and meeting some of the stars of the genre on a regular basis.
The musicians that he’s hung out with include Eric Church, who remains a close friend of the Beathard family, Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift, the last of whom is just four years older than Beathard. The friendship paid off in one of Chesney’s music videos, as C.J. Beathard can be seen in the video for “The Boys of Fall”.
On the football side of things, Beathard’s list of famous acquaintances was no less impressive. Thanks to his grandfather’s role as a general manager for San Diego and a special adviser for Atlanta, Beathard spent his childhood hanging out with professional stars such as Junior Seau and Michael Vick.