Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports



During each press conference, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is asked about his starting quarterback. He is asked to either evaluate Brian Hoyer's performance or asked about the length of Hoyer's leash. Four of Hoyer's five outings this season have been unspectacular. That's not to say that each of them has been horrible. They've just been viewed by fans as part of the reason for the 49ers' five-game losing streak. Whether the assessment is fair or not is a conversation for another time.

There are a number of fans who would love to see rookie C.J. Beathard get some in-game playing time. Since preseason, Beathard's only reps have come during practices when he is mostly limited to commanding the scout team. Those fans would like to see if Beathard could be a potential franchise quarterback for the team. If that were the case, it would save the 49ers a selection in next year's draft or some money in free agency.

Of course, Beathard simply may not be ready yet and throwing him into an already bad situation may stunt his confidence. There are also those who believe if the 49ers plan to find a quarterback next year via the draft or free agency, then it doesn't really matter who is behind center this year because the player is simply a placeholder and isn't likely to be the guy going forward.

Despite the 49ers' 0-5 start to the season, Shanahan insists he is not yet ready to start substituting younger players in for veteran starters just to give them a better look. The 49ers head coach will continue to play whoever he feels gives the team the best chance to win football games.

"I would never do that just to do it, especially at this time," Shanahan told reporters on Monday. "I'm always going to try to do what I think gives us the best chance to win because I still think we're really into this, and I do think we have had a chance to win these games. I think we've got to keep getting better, and whether that's with younger guys, older guys, I decide that based on how practice is going and how they look every day."

That philosophy extends to the quarterback position. Shanahan will continue to go with the player who gives the team the best chance to win. For now, Shanahan believes that player to be Hoyer. However, it also shortens Hoyer's leash a bit and leaves the door open for Beathard – should he be viewed at any point in the near future as the team's best chance to win.

"There's no position on our team where it's, 'Hey, you're starting no questions asked. We're not going to look at anything,'" Shanahan said. "We evaluate everything. I know you do that every week, whether you're 5-0 or whether you're 0-5. Brian did some good things in that game. By no means was it perfect. I still expect him to play better. I expect us all to play better. (I) expect me to coach better.

"C.J. is doing a good job in practice. I think he's gotten better each week and we'll continue to do that with him. And if we feel [a quarterback change is] the best thing for the team, the best thing for C.J. and the players around him, that's when we'll do that."

Shanahan's comments are a change from the response he gave last week when he was asked if he would consider a change at quarterback, to which he replied, "No, I wouldn't."

"I don't feel it is the best thing for our team right now," Shanahan said last week, "so that's something that I haven't started to consider."

Hoyer's job doesn't get any easier going forward. On Sunday, the 49ers will play the Washington Redskins (2-2) on the road before returning to Levi's Stadium for an October 22 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys (2-3) and then hit the road once again to face the Philadelphia Eagles (4-1) on October 29.

Should the 49ers come out of the next three weeks 0-8, one has to wonder if Shanahan might be tempted to give Beathard a look during back-to-back home games against the Arizona Cardinals (2-3) and New York Giants (0-5).