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First off, everyone in the NFL community needs to appreciate how well and how fearlessly Jimmy Garoppolo played against the Jets last Sunday. He sprained his ankle in the first quarter, was limping around the entire first half, and completed 14 of his 16 pass attempts for 131 yards and two touchdowns, and with zero picks. I would have loved to have seen what he could have done for the entire game with two good ankles. However, that was not the case and he won’t be playing this week either, so it’s Big Nick Mullens time.
We have all heard the “football heads’” critique of Garoppolo since he became the starting quarterback for the 49ers. We have seen some of the plays that make us facepalm when Garoppolo is playing. We are all aware of the fact at least right now is not a Hall-of-Fame quarterback. Nevertheless, he is better than Mullens, which is why Mullens is not the starting quarterback. The offense was not as efficient with Mullens under center as it was with Garoppolo. But now, Mullens needs to step up for a week or two.
(On a separate yet still-on-topic note, if Jerick McKinnon can have more runs like he had on the third-and-31 last Sunday, both the fan and fantasy owner in me will be very happy.)
With Mullens starting, what is Mad Scientist Kyle Shanahan going to have to do to make sure Mullens is prepared? First, it will be helpful for Mullens knowing he is the starting quarterback and not coming off the bench. This gives him and Shanahan a week to prepare. Plus, Mullens has been the backup, so it’s not like he doesn’t know the offense.
Like in all of Shanahan’s offenses the running game will be crucial. But the 49ers cannot simply run the ball all game or the defense will stack the box with 11 guys, causing San Francisco to go three-and-out all game. There has to be the threat of the pass to keep the defense on its toes. Some short quick passes will help build Mullens’ confidence, which will also give them a chance to get some play-action involved.
Mullens may also need some extra time to throw and we have seen the offensive line struggle in the first couple games. Shanahan may need to leave an extra blocker or two to make sure Mullens has enough time to go through his progressions.
The important thing to remember is Mullens isn’t new to playing in the NFL. He finished out the rest of the 2018 season when everyone realized C.J. Beathard was not the answer to any other question but who should not be a starting quarterback. Mullens even won his first start against the then-Oakland Raiders. Let’s all get behind Mullens and show our support Sunday and hopefully they get another win under their belt.
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