The San Francisco 49ers put together their best performance of the season in Week 15, beating the Seattle Seahawks 26-23 in overtime. They put up better numbers against the Oakland Raiders, but given the caliber of the Seahawks, this was their best game of the year.
There will be plenty to discuss in the coming days, but I figured we might as well start with the most important player on the field. The 49ers are on their third quarterback, but they have found a keeper in Nick Mullens. He completed 20 of 29 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown, and while he missed a couple open passes to George Kittle, he also showed how much he can take a hit. Frank Clark and Jarran Reed both got huge hits on Mullens, but the 49ers quarterback stood tall in the pocket to make some key plays.
Following the game, cornerback Richard Sherman was effusive in his praise for Mullens (via Nick Wagoner).
“[He] has stepped up to the moment week in and week out, and he’s showing he can play in this league. I just hope we can keep him because teams need a quarterback. This guy is not just playing like, ‘oh, conservative football, get the ball in the right places.’ He’s making the right decisions. He’s making good throws under pressure. I’d say he’s playing like a top half quarterback in this league. You’ve got guys that are out there right now that are not playing better football than Nick Mullens, and he could be a starter for a lot of teams in this football league. We appreciate that we have him, and he’s playing his tail off for us.”
Where do you think Mullens ranks compared to the rest of the league? There are some truly mediocre quarterbacks in the league right now, and right now, Mullens is playing some really solid football. His performance today is particularly notable because it marked his second start against the Seahawks. They had five games of film, and specifically film from their first matchup. They made adjustments, and Mullens was arguably better in this game.
Mullens threw for 414 yards in Seattle, but 300 of those yards came after they were trailing 20-3. It was a solid second half showing, but I would contend this performance was better. Even more interesting? His 689 yards passing over two games are a record against Pete Carroll’s Seahawks.
Nick Mullens has 672 yards passing in 2 games vs Seahawks this season, the most for any player in one year since Pete Carroll took over in 2010. #49ers lead 23-20 with 9:51 to play— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) December 16, 2018
Jimmy Garoppolo is the 49ers starter once he’s back from his ACL injury. But right now, they would appear to have an incredibly capable backup. Mullens’ arm strength does raise some questions, but against Seattle we saw him make some difficult throws — particularly when under significant pressure. He seems to be showing some improvement in that regard.
C.J. Beathard will compete with Mullens this offseason, but right now it’s hard to see anybody but Mullens backing up Jimmy G. The 49ers could end up trading Mullens, but if he’s on the roster next year, he would seem to be the front-runner to back up Garoppolo.