Summer 2024

49ers QB C.J. Beathard credits God for incredible performance 1 year after brother's death

Since entering the NFL in 2017 as a third-round draft pick out of Iowa, San Francisco 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard has made just 11 starts. His finest performance yet came Saturday in a 20-12 win over Arizona, and during an emotional week.

>> Subscribe to Sports Spectrum Magazine for more stories where sports and faith connect <<

He got the start after Nick Mullens suffered an elbow injury last week, and Mullens had been starting for first-string QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s battled ankle injuries much of the season. The last time Beathard started a game was Oct. 28, 2018 (coincidentally also against the Cardinals). And his impressive showing Saturday came in a game the 49ers (6-9) had little to play for, being out of playoff contention despite appearing in last season’s Super Bowl.

But none of that stopped Beathard from throwing three touchdowns against a team very much alive in the playoff race. The 27-year-old Beathard completed 13 of 22 passes for 182 yards — all of that good for a 125.4 QB rating, the best of any game he’s started in his career.

And it came just days after he endured the one-year anniversary of the death of his younger brother, Clayton, who was stabbed to death outside of a bar in Nashville, Tennessee, on Dec. 21, 2019.

After the game, Beathard credited God

“It means more than I can really put into words,” Beathard said in his press conference. “Everything that I’ve been through the last year and it being the year anniversary of my brother passing, it’s just one of those things that you can’t really put it into words, other than the fact that it’s just God. You can’t write a script any different. I couldn’t handpick this to go the way it did. So I just put my faith in God.”

As he spoke, Beathard was wearing a black jacket with “KING” embroidered down the right side, and a picture of Clayton on the left side. He was asked about his attire and what the word “King” means to him.

“It’s got a lot of meaning for me,” Beathard said. “First and foremost, the King is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and it has a lot of irony with me just because my little brother’s middle name is King. So he was Clayton King Beathard, [that] was his full name. And my other brother, Tucker, dedicated his album to Clay and it was called ‘The King.’ And just the irony of our King here on earth is Jesus Christ and all that that means. Actually, Clay’s pastor in New York got this made for me and sent this to me. It dropped me to tears when I saw it, it was really cool.”

C.J.’s love for his little brother was also apparent in his hairstyle, which he switched up earlier this week.

“I hadn’t gotten it cut since my brother passed, and it’s kind of one of those things — he always liked the long hair so I just kept it going, really for him,” Beathard said.

As Beathard was inspired by his brother, he inspired his teammates.

“I’ve always been so inspired by C.J.,” fullback Kyle Juszczyk told the media. “Just how this guy just grinds regardless of what’s happened to him and the circumstances. This guy has gone through a lot in the last couple years. I felt like he was being unfairly judged for his first couple years in the league and just how tough it was to play as a rookie and a second-year guy with the roster we had at the time.

“When he got his opportunity like he did tonight, I felt like he was going to run with it. I’m sure he could tell you about all the plays that he’d like to play better. But I’ll just tell you the guy inspires us so much and we are so happy to go out there and perform for him.”

— 49ers QB C.J. Beathard clings to God as he grieves brother’s death
— 49ers QB C.J. Beathard tells injured Jimmy Garoppolo he’ll be praying for him
— 49ers DB D.J. Reed trusts in Holy Spirit through winding journey to Super Bowl
— 49ers center Ben Garland thrust into starting role, centers himself on gratitude for God
— 49ers RB Raheem Mostert describes Bible verse tattooed on his chest