Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no point for the 49ers to stick with Brian Hoyer much longer

Al Sacco
Oct 2, 2017 at 10:54 AM13

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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)

RELATED Recap: 49ers fall to 0-4 after last minute 18-15 overtime loss to Cardinals

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
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Dave B
    The question needs to be asked. "Hey Kyle, do you still think that CJ is the best quarterback in the 2017 draft? Watson looks pretty darn good." If Kyle isn't a good talent evaluator it almost doesn't matter how much offense he can coach. Let's see what Beathard's got.
    Oct 3, 2017 at 8:23 AM
  • Simon
    Bring back Barkley. He may he was the best in the preseason and did a fine job beating the niners last season when the niners played the Chicago Bears. He was accurate with no interceptions. Shanahan did not give Barkley a fair chance in the preseason. It appeared to me that Shanahan had made up his mind to give Hoyer the starting job and when Barkley did better than Hoyer in the first two games, Shanahan pulled him in the later games.
    Oct 2, 2017 at 2:16 PM
  • Simon
    Bring back Barkley. He may he was the best in the preseason and did a fine job beating the miners last season when the miners played the Chicago Bears. He was accurate with no interceptions. Shanahan did not give Barkley a fair chance in the preseason. It appeared to me that Shanahan had made up his mind to give Hoyer the starting job and when Barkley did better than Boyer in the first two games, Shanahan pulled him in the later games.
    Oct 2, 2017 at 2:05 PM
  • TMills
    Let's understand that if Beathard has any possibility of being the future qb of this team, you can't destroy his confidence by starting him with a line that cannot pass protect. The only way Beathard should play, is if Hoyer either gets hurt or the Niners or up by a couple of scores with a couple minutes to go (we know that's not going to happen).
    Oct 2, 2017 at 1:49 PM
  • Jim Hardman
    I've been saying from the beginning "give Beathard a chance when the game is lost. Hoyer is no passer. The last one he threw was ridiculously way over the receivers head. Next week start Beathard.
    Oct 2, 2017 at 1:40 PM
  • Andrew Stahl
    too be honest Brian hoyer is a backup QB playing starter and from what I've seen he needs to sit down on the bench and allow cj to play but in a interesting thought in my opinion the 9ers could and still can sign another QB like Johnny Manizel I mean they already have a young team but to have him as a backup a learn coach Shannon system who knows what would come of it I do know he had a substance abuse problem but to sit him out for the rest of the year or so would be a very rewarding thing to do but like I said this is just a personal opinion nothing more
    Oct 2, 2017 at 1:02 PM
  • Tim
    Haters will never admit it.... Niners are 3-1 right now if kaepernick was QB.
    Oct 2, 2017 at 12:38 PM
  • Frank Misaege
    I think we may see a change during the bye week...that'd give Beathard max reps with the 1st team. No matter who our QB is, the receivers are going to have to step up their games.
    Oct 2, 2017 at 12:00 PM
  • Scott
    I have been saying this all along,. The more pressure he gets the worse he is. That is supposed to be Beathard's strongest suit. What are they waiting for ?
    Oct 2, 2017 at 11:28 AM
  • stevebanzai
    I thought the same thing. "ok, after 4 games it's obvious he's performing the same or worse than his other earlier performances in the league". It doesn't have to be the elephant in the room. Put in CJ and let's find out about him...we did it much earlier to Alex and Tim Rattay. Also,...can Robinson or let him earn his stripes again and try Colbert or Akhielo, tell Jed to take a year long cruise and shut up about his Political views. Sadly and I can't believe it's come to this, if you can't protest without making us hostage to per a part of your world view about problems in our society that aren't even clearly articulated other than to say it's about injustice, than sadly skip the anthem. I just want to watch football and discuss my politics and ethics in the forums that I choose.
    Oct 2, 2017 at 11:28 AM
  • AJ Dembroski
    The point is rather obvious; not getting a rookie who has shown some promise destroyed behind the league's worst pass protecting interior line in a season that's not going anywhere. This is why they signed the guy: to get his butt kicked for a year until they go get the real starter. That may or may not be CJ, but based on the history of rookies behind crap lines, it wont be if he starts now. Hoyers job is to take the hits for a season, nothing more.
    Oct 2, 2017 at 11:27 AM
  • DRaj
    To be fair to Hoyer, there were some unacceptable dropped passes by his receivers. He's definitely not the long term answer but makes us more competitive in the short-term than our other options. There is a benefit to the team in playing tight games and being competitive for the long-term. With a bit of luck we could have been sitting at 2-2 or 3-1 based on how the games have gone.
    Oct 2, 2017 at 11:21 AM
  • NinerGM
    While we're on the topic of "nothing to lose," why not play Whitherspoon? We know Robinson won't be the answer long term, so might as well let the rook get in there and get some snaps. Sitting on the bench isn't helping anyone. The kid needs to play so can be at least ready to compete next season for a roster spot.
    Oct 2, 2017 at 11:01 AM

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