SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Moments after drafting Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch explained their hope for Beathard is he could come in as the No. 3 quarterback, learn from the guys in front of him and eventually develop into a starter.
But on Jan. 26, 2016, President Donald Trump offered a far grander idea of what Beathard could become in the NFL. According to the Ceder Rapids Gazette, during a campaign event at the University of Iowa Field House, Trump -- who was then a candidate for the Republican nomination -- repeatedly referred to Beathard as the second coming of Tom Brady, the New England Patriots' five-time Super Bowl champion.
"We've got the next Tom Brady right over here, the quarterback, he's going to be the next Tom Brady," Trump said, pointing to Beathard. "The next Tom Brady, come on. And I know Tom, and he's a great guy, I want to tell you."
Beathard went on to a middling senior season but was coming off of a strong junior year in which he led Iowa to a Rose Bowl appearance at the time of Trump's comments. The 49ers traded back into the third round of the draft on Friday night, taking Beathard with pick No. 104 overall.
This isn't the first time that Trump has commented on a 49ers quarterback. During the 2016 season, he was a vocal opponent of Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem as a way to protest racial inequality in the country. In March, Trump claimed NFL owners didn't want to sign the free-agent quarterback out of fear of a "nasty tweet" from him.
The idea of Beathard becoming the next Brady is undoubtedly a long shot, but the Niners would be more than happy for Trump to be right in his evaluation. Brady, after all, was a sixth-round pick with mediocre stats from a Big Ten program and is now the standard-bearer for anyone hoping a quarterback taken late can become a superstar.
"When you go in and you have some guys that you're excited with at the one and two spot and then you draft a guy who's coming in penciled as the three... people call that a project," Shanahan said. "That means you're going to work with someone, but I mean, it's only a project for so long. There's competition. You've got to earn a roster spot. There's only 53 on our roster and you don't always keep three quarterbacks. Obviously, we've got confidence in him. That's why we took him. But he's got a lot of work to do and he's got to earn his way here, just like everyone else."