Expectations take sharp turn for 49ers

San Francisco 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard (3) looks to throw the ball against the Los Angeles Chargers Aug 30.Photo: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Kyle Shanahan: "It's part of life. You have to adjust to it and you've got to make the best out of it."

The San Francisco 49ers expected many big things from Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerick McKinnon this season. The same wasn't true of their pass rush.

But just three weeks into the season, how things have changed.

With Garoppolo headed for the same season-ending surgery as McKinnon for a torn ACL, the 49ers (1-2) are now expected to compete for the No. 1 pick in next year's draft, where elite pass rushers have risen to the top of the early projections.

A team that was given a good chance to compete for a playoff spot suddenly isn't even considered to be in the Cleveland Browns' league.

It's a logical conclusion. After all, the 49ers were 1-10 the last time they kicked off without Garoppolo as their starting quarterback.

Hello, Nick Bosa?

"I'm not going to sugarcoat it: It was hard waking up today," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan admitted Monday, about 24 hours after Garoppolo blew out his left knee trying to make a cut on the sidelines late in a loss at Kansas City. "We were looking forward a lot to playing with Jimmy this year and going through the good and the bad that would happen, knowing that he would benefit from all of it. Now, we don't get to do that.

"This is part of the league. It's part of the NFL. It's part of life. You have to adjust to it and you've got to make the best out of it."

The 49ers expect Garoppolo, who signed a five-year contract in the offseason, to return as the team's No. 1 quarterback next year in training camp. For now, C.J. Beathard, who started five games last season, takes the reins.

Shanahan noted he wasn't concerned about Beathard getting basically just three days of practice before lining up in Week 4 against the Los Angeles Chargers. He expects the transition from Garoppolo to Beathard to be much smoother than that from McKinnon to the running back tandem of Alfred Morris and Matt Breida.

"They're real similar styles. They're both good pocket-passing quarterbacks, so you don't have to change very much," Shanahan observed. "Jerick was a little different."

Shanahan had to look long and hard for a positive in his wounded-knee predicament, but was able to find one.

"That's the only good news (is that) at least he's got a buddy to go through it with," Shanahan said of Garoppolo. "They're both in the same boat. I sent (McKinnon) a picture of (Garoppolo's) knee right after the game. (He) just said, 'Looking forward to having a wingman.'

"They can talk a lot about it with each other. They can keep each other up, help each other when each other are down. Those are two very important players. I really look forward to having both of them next year."

Shanahan found a surprising target to blame for Garoppolo's mishap.

"One guy made a cut in Kansas City on some re-sodded turf after a Taylor Swift concert ... and the other guy made a cut on our practice field in the last play of practice," the coach responded when asked if there were precautions to take in the future. "We can't tell them to avoid Kansas City if we play there."

SERIES HISTORY: 14th regular-season meeting. Chargers lead series, 7-6. The Chargers have won four in a row, including 38-35 in overtime in the most recent meeting in San Francisco in 2014. The latest 49ers win came in 2000, a 45-17 victory in San Diego. The clubs met in the 1995 Super Bowl, with the 49ers winning 49-26.

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