The San Francisco 49ers put together a big fourth quarter rally on Thursday evening to win their preseason opener over the Dallas Cowboys by a final score of 24-21. The team trailed 21-10 heading into the fourth quarter, but quarterback Nick Mullens led them on a pair of scoring drives, including a 7-yard touchdown pass to Richie James with 18 seconds left.
It is only fitting that Mullens earn the always coveted Niners Nation KSWOF — Kory Sheets Was Our Future — player of the game award. The award goes to a player that has an impressive fourth quarter in the preseason. The award is in honor of the best and worst fanpost in Niners Nation history.
Mullens finished the game 11-of-13 for 141 yards with the touchdown pass and an interception. The pick was an awful throw to wide open Cowboys cornerback Duke Thomas. But that throw aside, Mullens was impressive. His only non-intercepted, non-penalty incomplete pass was a pass that bounced off of Victor Bolden’s chest and should have been caught. Most important, he put together a strong two-minute drill at the end of the game. He completed five straight passes, was able to get a defensive pass interference call on sixth pass, and then threw the touchdown on the seventh pass of the drive. All in all, a very solid evening for Mullens.
Given C.J. Beathard’s struggles after replacing Jimmy Garoppolo, I would not be surprised if we saw some calls for Mullens to get some more opportunities earlier in the game. The 49ers signed Mullens as a UDFA a year ago, and he spent the season on the practice squad. He’s in his second year learning Kyle Shanahan’s offense and working with Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello.
The team signed Jack Heneghan as a UDFA this past May, but for now it seems likely he is a camp body. The team could like what they’re seeing and hope they can slip him to the practice squad, but that seems unlikely for the time being.
Beathard had a fairly atrocious game, but it’s too early to say he is in danger of losing his backup job. He had a 53-yard pass to Dante Pettis, but finished the game 10-of-20 for 181 yards and an interception. It was a struggle for him much of the evening. Maybe Mullens gets some kind of chance to get some work with the 2s in a game, but the more likely result is that he remains where he is at on the depth chart. But maybe, just maybe, NICK MULLENS WAS/IS OUR FUTURE!
Here’s what Mullens had to say after the game.
Everybody was excited in the locker room for you. What did that mean to you?
“It was an awesome moment, and an awesome moment for our team. The threes, we work together every day in practice. It was cool to just see us take advantage of our opportunities out there today. It was a lot of fun. Everybody was locked in and we finished strong.”
Looked pretty comfortable in the two-minute drill there.
“Yeah, it’s fun man. You know you’re going to pass it and I like to pass, of course. The receivers did a great job. Guys that we work with every day, the guys up front, we were just very in-tune, very locked in. We walked through that every single day of camp and it was cool to see it translate to the field.”
QB C.J. Beathard mentioned that just the quarterbacks room and how you were just gelling and learning from QB Jimmy Garoppolo. What’s that room been like? What have you learned being under him?
“Yeah, it’s been awesome. You know, [Quarterbacks coach] Rich [Scangarello] does a great job of having all of us on the same page. Then, you know us four guys, we’ve got a good brotherhood in there. We all learn from Jimmy. He obviously is the most experienced and plays very well as a quarterback. So, we learn as much as we can from him. Me and C.J. have been buddies for a while now and we welcomed [QB] Jack [Heneghan] into the room. So, it’s a lot of fun. It makes camp a lot more fun when you’re around guys that you like. We have a great room and it’s a lot of fun.”
What’s it like to finally have someone else across the field from you and not your own teammates?
“Yeah, no doubt. It’s close to 10 straight practices going against the same guys every day, over and over and over. To finally get out, play under the lights, it’s so much fun. For me, it’s been since last year, last preseason to get out and play. It’s awesome to take advantage of the opportunities and go out and have fun with your brothers doing it.”