Mullens Injury Clears Way For Beathard To Start For 49ers

Mullens Injury Clears Way For Beathard To Start For 49ers

Nick Mullens will miss the rest of the season with a serious elbow injury, moving third-stringer C.J. Beathard into a starting role for the final two games and sending the San Francisco 49ers on desperate search for a backup.

Mullens got hurt late in Sundays loss at Dallas and coach Kyle Shanahan said he will likely need reconstructive surgery on his throwing elbow.

Starter Jimmy Garoppolo has been cleared to return to practice from an ankle injury that has sidelined him the past six games, but wont be ready to play Saturday night against Arizona. Backup Josh Johnson was placed on the


list Tuesday, leaving Beathard as the only available quarterback.

Shanahan said he doesnt expect Garoppolo to be cleared to play this week.

Id be very surprised if that happens, he said. Right now, hes safe to go out to practice, which were only having to walkthrough today. Itll be fun for him to throw the ball around a little bit tomorrow. Were going to be very safe with him this week and well see next week. But I would be very surprised if that changes.

With players not currently on an NFL roster and in the


testing protocol needing six days of clean tests to be eligible to play, the only option for a backup will be either to sign someone off another teams practice squad or use someone such as running back Jerick McKinnon or fullback Kyle Juszczyk as an emergency option.

Hopefully it doesnt come to that, but also hopefully it does kind of come to that, Juszczyk said. Maybe C.J. needs to tie his shoe or his helmet needs to get fixed and I get at least one play.

The Niners also will be without running back Raheem Mostert (ankle) and receiver Deebo Samuel (hamstring) for the final two games, but could get 2019 All-Pro tight end George Kittle back in the fold.

Kittle has been out since breaking his foot Nov. 1. Kittle returned to practice last week and is on target to play this week even though the Niners have been eliminated from playoff contention.

If hes healthy, I just dont see the reason why not to, Shanahan said. Its the same as every other player on our roster, if youre healthy and youre not risking something. We would never ask to play injured or anything like that, but he had a good week of practice last week.

Beathard has played only sparingly as a backup the past two seasons after starting 10 games his first two years in the NFL. Beathard won just one of those starts and has a 77.2 career passer rating with 14 TD passes and 13 interceptions.

Its been a difficult stretch for Beathard, whose brother Clayton was killed last December outside of a bar in Nashville.

Beathard has completed 28 of 45 passes for 332 yards and two TDs this season in mop-up duty.

Im excited to see what he can do with the full week of practice and a full week of preparation, Juszczyk said. I have all the confidence in the world in C.J. I feel like he is in a kind of an unfair way gets judged about what he did his first and second year in the league. Its been a while since hes had a chance to be that starting quarterback and have time to prepare. I think hes a different player now.

NOTES: CB Richard Sherman has a sore calf and might not be able to play this week. Sherman missed nine games this season with a calf injury. … DT Javon Kinlaw (knee) and S Tarvarius Moore (knee) are day to day and S Jimmie Ward is in concussion protocol. … WR Richie James Jr. (ankle) and OL Hroniss Grasu (knee) were limited at practice.


More AP NFL: and