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Report: 49ers unlikely to tender RFA Nick Mullens

Mullens didn’t need Tommy John surgery, but he did have elbow surgery that will take six months to recover

San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers will add a new face to their quarterback room this offseason. Whether that’s a starter or a backup remains to be seen. As of today, Jimmy Garoppolo, Josh Johnson, and Josh Rosen would be the top three quarterbacks on the roster.

C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens both saw extensive action during the 2020 regular season. It always felt like a longshot for either to return to the 49ers in 2021. They had their opportunities during the past few seasons to prove to Kyle Shanahan that either or was worthy of a roster spot, but the more they played, the more it became apparent that Kyle couldn’t trust Beathard or Mullens with the keys to the car.

A report came out on January 26 that Mullens underwent successful elbow surgery in late December, and the damage was not as extensive as initially feared. The good news was that Mullens didn’t need the dreaded Tommy John surgery. Mullens' bad news was that a six-month recovery meant he wouldn’t be healed by the time free agency rolls around.

According to NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco, the 49ers are not likely to tender Mullens due to being in the middle of recovering from surgery. This time a year ago, we asked if there was still a trade market for Mullens. That’s because The Athletic’s Mike Lombardi reported during the 2020 offseason that the 49ers turned down every trade offer for Mullens.

At the time, it felt like moving on from Mullens didn’t make sense for anything worse than a fourth-round pick, given his value. Then again, Mullens was entering the final year of his contract, and generally speaking, whenever your starting quarterback goes down, so does your season. Mullens was good for a spot start or two, but the more film teams got on him, the easier it was to shut the Niners' offense down.

Is it hindsight to say San Francisco should have traded Mullens during or after the 2019 season?