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Shanahan names Mullens the starter for Sunday; Kittle will be a game-time decision

Shanahan also spoke about MetLife Stadium’s turf

San Francisco 49ers v New York Jets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was on KNBR on Friday morning discussing Sunday’s upcoming matchup against the New York Giants, a team that Shanahan said is “better than people think.” Shanahan named Nick Mullens the starter, which isn’t a surprise, but now it’s confirmed. Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a high ankle sprain last Sunday and has yet to practice this week. The last time Mullens started a game, he targeted George Kittle 14 times. The next wideout with the most targets was Kendrick Bourne, with five. Hopefully, this time around, Mullens has Kittle on Sunday, but he’ll also have Jordan Reed, Brandon Aiyuk, and a safety blanket out of the backfield in Jerick McKinnon. Plus, a better offensive line. Which is why Shanahan said, “I expect him [Mullens] to play very good this week. It’s going to be the same offense. “It’s not like we’re going to go out there and run the zone read.”

Shanahan said that Garoppolo is a tier above Mullens as a passer, but mentioned that the offense would be the same and Nick would try and get the ball to the team’s receivers in the same way that Jimmy does. Shanahan said Garoppolo wouldn’t be active on Sunday and likely won’t even be on the sidelines. That means C.J. Beathard would be the backup quarterback. That also means the team will only have two quarterbacks dressed and could have another player active, likely an extra defensive lineman.

As for George Kittle, Shanahan said he’s going to practice today, and the team will see how he looks. The decision on whether or not Kittle would play against the Jets will come down to the last minute. Shanahan said he’d talk to Kittle to see how he feels, then talk to the team doctors. “If there’s any hesitation at all from the doctors...at all, he won’t be out there.” Shanahan said MetLife Stadium’s turf wouldn’t be a deciding factor on whether Kittle suits up Sunday or not. He mentioned how the 49ers have nine games on turf this season and that “all turf sucks.” He added that MetLife’s turf is “a little bit worse” to play on since it’s newer.

We’ll have the official injury reports later Friday afternoon after the 49ers practice.