SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- C.J. Beathard got his first extended opportunity to play quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, playing well enough for coach Kyle Shanahan to commit to him moving forward this season.
Beathard enters this week as the starter for the first time, with a chance to establish himself and, perhaps, make the Niners rethink their long-term quarterback plans.
Here's a closer look at the Niners' third-round rookie out of Iowa:
Football runs in the family
Beathard's first career touchdown pass came in the fourth quarter Sunday, when he hit receiver Aldrick Robinson down the right sideline and Robinson evaded a tackle and sneaked into the corner of the end zone. It was a fitting first scoring toss, considering Robinson just so happened to score in the corner of FedEx Field where the name Bobby Beathard hangs in the Redskins' Ring of Fame.
Bobby Beathard is C.J.'s grandfather and one of the most well-known talent evaluators and team builders in league history. Bobby Beathard spent 38 years in the NFL, 22 as general manager in Washington and San Diego. The elder Beathard helped construct a pair of Super Bowl champions and is the contributor finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2018 class.
So does country music
In addition to football, the Beathard family has made its mark on the country music scene. Beathard's father, Casey, is an accomplished songwriter, penning songs for well-known country artists such as Kenny Chesney, Billy Ray Cyrus, Trace Adkins and Eric Church. Casey Beathard played wide receiver at Elon College and eventually combined his music talents with his football background to write the gridiron-themed song "The Boys of Fall" for Chesney.
The country music bug has continued to run in the family, with C.J.'s older brother Tucker now a singer-songwriter signed to Dot Records. He released his first single last year. C.J. also has a little bit of his own musical background, playing lead guitar in a band with his brothers that used to play at local talent shows in and around his hometown of Franklin, Tennessee.
In need of a quarterback to develop in this year's NFL draft, Shanahan and the Niners passed on every signal-caller available to them in the first two-plus rounds. Seemingly out of nowhere, the 49ers surprised much of the NFL world by trading back into the end of the third round to select Beathard. Beathard wasn't on many radars, and those who project where players might land in the draft had him pegged as a late-round choice.
But Shanahan hand-picked Beathard, in large part because Beathard played in a pro-style offense at Iowa and came with all the intangibles he was looking for in a young quarterback. That Big Ten background in a pro-style offense and his status as a mid-round pick led some to wonder if he could be Shanahan's West Coast version of Kirk Cousins, who had a similar résumé when Shanahan and his father were in Washington and drafted him in the middle rounds in 2012.
"Sunshine" no more
During his time in Iowa City, Beathard was dubbed "Sunshine" because his long, flowing, blonde hair bore a striking resemblance to that of quarterback Ronnie "Sunshine" Bass in the movie "Remember the Titans." Alas, the nickname was no longer apropos in 2015, after Beathard cut his hair off and donated it to Wigs for Kids, a nonprofit that makes free wigs for children who have lost their hair because of illness.