Spring 2021 Magazine

49ers QB C.J. Beathard clings to God as he grieves brother's death

It was a tough week for San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback C.J. Beathard, as he and his family sought to process the latest news in the tragic death of 22-year-old Clayton Beathard, C.J.’s younger brother.

On Wednesday, law enforcement officials in Tennessee arrested a man wanted in a stabbing attack that took place Saturday morning at a Nashville bar and killed Clayton and another man. The attack also injured a third. The 23-year-old suspect has been charged with criminal homicide.

The 49ers had an NFC West showdown on Saturday night against the Los Angeles Rams, but C.J. was already back in his home state of Tennessee to be with his family. The 49ers won the game, 34-31, and eliminated the Rams from playoff contention. The mood in the 49ers’ locker room after the game, however, was far from celebratory.

With thoughts focused on the Beathard family, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan addressed an emotional locker room after the win:

“Having to go spend an hour with C.J. last night and just being with him during that, you guys know how tough it is for him and his family,” Shanahan said. “I spent an hour with him last night. He was exactly what any one of us would’ve been last night — distraught, struggling to talk.”

Clayton had football aspirations just like his brother. He was the starting quarterback for Long Island University. He was described as an “amazing, big- and soft-hearted human being with an undeniable love for the Lord,” the Beathard parents said in a statement to The Tennessean.

The statement continued: “To those who knew and loved him, please lean into the Lord’s strength, trust in the Lord and carry on.”

Faith in Christ is prominent in the Beathard household. Before C.J., 26, left his home state to attend the University of Iowa, he posted about his faith on Twitter:

And back when Beathard was quarterbacking Iowa to a 12-2 record in 2015, he struck up a friendship with a 14-year-old Hawkeye fan named Jay Knabe who traveled with his parents and lived in an RV. After meeting at Iowa’s spring game, the two reconnected and Beathard asked Knabe to send him a verse of the Bible before every game that season.

The texts became incorporated into Beathard’s weekly routine.

“I read Bible scriptures in the hotel before we get on the bus,” Beathard told hawkcentral.com in 2015. “And there’s a book called ‘Jesus Daily’ that I read a page from before each game.”

Beathard reached the NFL as a third-round pick of the 49ers in 2017, where his faith was again on display. When the quarterback ahead of him on the depth chart, Jimmy Garoppolo, tore his ACL in 2018, Beathard was nothing but supportive.

“I told him I would be praying for him and that I love him,” he said.

In all, Beathard has appeared in 13 games and thrown for 2,682 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He has yet to appear in a regular-season game this season.

San Francisco (12-3) plays for the NFC West title in its last game of the season this week on Sunday Night Football at Seattle (11-4). It has not been announced whether Beathard will be back with the team.

RELATED STORIES:
49ers QB C.J. Beathard tells injured Jimmy Garoppolo he’ll be praying for him
Father thanks God for 49ers draft pick Dre Greenlaw, who saved his daughter at a party
VIDEO: 49ers WR Jordan Matthews on the state of faith in the NFL
VIDEO: 49ers WR Jordan Matthews on team Bible study and community
Falcons rookie RB Qadree Ollison chooses forgiveness over hatred after brother’s murder