Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports



As Brian Hoyer's final pass of the day resulted in yet another incompletion, I thought to myself, "What's the point?" Granted, the San Francisco 49ers were about to kick a field goal with 2:28 left in overtime to take a 15-12 lead over the Arizona Cardinals, but nothing about that advantage felt safe. Turns out, it wasn't, as the Cards marched downfield to find the end zone, giving them an 18-15 victory. It didn't have to get to that point though, and the Niners should have never been in a position to give the ball back to Carson Palmer and company in the first place. All they had to do was score a touchdown, just one, at any point in the afternoon. They didn't, and haven't in three-of-four games this season, in large part because of Hoyer's play.

Now I'm not blaming the lack of firepower on the embattled quarterback alone. While Joe Staley and Trent Brown have been excellent at the tackle position, the interior offensive linemen have struggled and are a big part of the reason why Hoyer's been sacked 13 times already. The receivers, minus Pierre Garçon, are a mixture of rookies and career backups and currently lead the NFL with 12 dropped passes. Hoyer's surroundings are far from ideal, but even giving him that, his overall performance hasn't helped matters.

Hoyer seems to play well here and there but has issues sustaining drives or maintaining any kind of consistency throughout a game. Out of quarterbacks with at least 100 passing attempts, Hoyer's completion percentage is near the bottom of the league at 58.1. Only Blake Bortles and DeShone Kizer are worse. Even if you account for the dropped passes, Hoyer's adjusted completion rate is 68.5, which would still put him at 28th overall according to Pro Football Focus. In turn, the 49ers are tied for the fewest touchdown passes in the NFL (two) and have the second-worst quarterback rating (67.9).

If there's been a bright spot in Hoyer's game, it's been on play action. Hoyer is 26-of-39 (66.7%) for 313 yards when using play action, including both of his touchdown throws. The issue is, he's been awful without it, going 60-for-109 (55%) with three interceptions. A good example of this discrepancy was in Week 4, as Hoyer was 9-of-14 (64%) for 111 yards when using play action, but only 15-of-35 (43%) for 123 yards on traditional dropbacks (also per Pro Football Focus)

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The lack of a passing game has, obviously, hurt the team in other areas as well. San Francisco is tied for 28th in time per drive at 2:23 in large part because it can't convert on third downs. In 60 chances this season, Hoyer and company have only converted 18 times (30%) which is third from the league bottom. That makes for a tired defense that's been forced to be on the field for 34 minutes or more in three of the team's four games thus far.

All of this brings me back to my initial question, "What's the point?" The 49ers are 0-4, and while the last three losses have been by a total of eight points, the prospects of reeling off wins anytime soon don't look promising. The next four games will see San Francisco at Indianapolis, at Washington, home to Dallas and at Philadelphia. How many of those games can the team honestly win? One, maybe? If Hoyer's just the placeholder (he is) and has no future on the rebuilding 49ers (he doesn't), why waste time playing him? Wouldn't it just make more sense to insert C.J. Beathard and see what you have in him? Maybe Beathard's the answer, maybe he's not, but at least head coach Kyle Shanahan and company can find out.

The issue may be that perhaps Beathard isn't quite ready yet and throwing him to the wolves wouldn't be good for anyone involved. If that's the case, it might make sense for the Niners to wait until the upcoming rough patch is over, and insert Beathard in Week 9 in a rematch against the Cardinals. That game begins a stretch of five of the final eight contests at home, which might be an easier transition for a rookie quarterback.

There's always the possibility that Hoyer can turn things around, but the issue remains the same. He's in no way the answer at quarterback, and a couple of good games won't change that. It's time for the 49ers to start thinking about the future of the position, and find the right spot to get Beathard involved.

Al Sacco is the Senior Writer for 49ers Webzone and has had his work used by national outlets such as ESPN and USA TODAY. In addition to his writing duties, Al is also the co-host of the No Huddle podcast. If you'd like to reach Al with a media request, please contact him via Twitter @AlSacco49