Nick Mullens didn’t attempt a pass in 2019, and the San Francisco 49ers were probably thrilled about that. The backup quarterback is one of the most popular players on each team. You’re kidding yourself if you don’t think there are a portion of Niners’ fans that aren’t calling for Mullens at every opportunity Jimmy Garoppolo makes a mistake. Mullens is an ideal backup as you can win with him. He plays it safe and avoids turnovers.
That doesn’t mean Mullens isn’t adding value. My favorite stat of Mullens from 2018, per Football Outsiders DYAR metric, Mullens ranked ahead of Dak Prescott, Nick Foles, and Marcus Mariota, among other quarterbacks. That’s likely more of a compliment to the guy calling the plays. We never hear “coach speak” about BDN like you do with most backups that can’t play. Mullens can play.
Age: 25 (birthday is March 25)
Experience: Two accrued seasons
Mullens enters the final year of his contract. He’ll make $750,000 this season. If the 49ers release Mullens, they wouldn’t have any dead money.
How he might improve in 2020
Mullens has eight starts under his belt, and another will have another full offseason of learning Shanahan’s system. Ideally, Mullens has as many attempts in 2020 as he did in 2019. It’s tough to improve when you don’t play. I’m sure Kyle Shanahan has given Mullens areas he can improve, even if it’s from a preparation standpoint or assisting Jimmy.
Odds of making the roster
Mullens won’t make the roster if C.J Beathard and Broc Rutter thoroughly outplay him during training camp and in preseason games. The odds both players do that are slim, which means Mullens is making the roster. Mullens has started and won in this league with a roster that looks nothing like it does today. If the Niners are going to move on from Mullens before next year, they’ll trade him. Rutter may give Beathard a run for his money, but Mullens is safe.
Mullens will be a restricted free agent next March. I could see the 49ers giving him a second-round tender to ensure he sticks around. If a team calls and offers a pick, you can’t turn down, then make a deal. You can’t let him walk without receiving any compensation in return, though.