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Why Nick Mullens’ play isn’t the real problem with the 49ers

Kyle Posey and Akash Anavarathan discuss that and more in today’s podcast

Washington Football Team v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In the movie, Patch Adams, Robin Williams’ character is flummoxed when a man holds up four fingers and asks him how many fingers he sees. Williams answers, “four,” and is told repeatedly that that’s the wrong answer. During the explanation of the correct answer, Williams is told, “You’re focusing on the problem. If you focus on the problem, you can’t see the solution. Never focus on the problem.” In today’s Shanaplan Podcast, Kyle Posey and Akash Anavarathan have the same advice for many 49ers fans.

Nick Mullens has taken a beating this week, and most of this year, really. Kyle Shanahan himself said he was, “up for anything” at quarterback going into Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, which is clearly an indictment of Mullens’ play.

But as Akash pointed out in today’s episode, we shouldn’t really be focused on Mullens’ play because he isn’t really the problem.

“I don’t think there’s any team, or people that cover a team, that spends this much time talking about a backup quarterback than the 49ers’ writers and podcasters,” Akash said, “I just think this comes back to Jimmy Garoppolo and a starting quarterback problem. If your starting quarterback stays healthy for 16 games, you do not care who the backup quarterback is. Do we talk about who Jared Goff’s backup quarterback is? I don’t even know who he is. Do we talk about Derek Carr’s backup quarterback? Do we talk about Russell Wilson’s backup quarterback? These guys stay healthy...I’ve got to be able to depend on you, and Jimmy Garoppolo has basically missed two seasons in three years.”

Kyle put it in even simpler terms.

“If you need a better backup quarterback, you need a better starting quarterback.”

Instead of lamenting every backbreaking interception or drive-ending fumble, we should be focused on why we have to watch Nick Mullens play this much in the first place. No team can function when you need two starting-level quarterbacks on the roster because you know one won’t make it through 16 games. Especially when the starter makes $26 million.

Do the 49ers realize this as well? We’ll find out this offseason.

Other topics discussed in the episode:

  • Why Mike McGlinchey is taking too much criticism for his play this year
  • Potential replacements for Robert Saleh if/when he leaves to become a head coach
  • Draft implications if the 49ers win against Dallas

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