Wasn’t long ago that Nick Mullens was a college whippersnapper at the fabled Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana, where he admired how “smooth” Eli Manning looked in a cameo.
Monday night, Mullens will make his encore as the 49ers starting quarterback, and it will be against Manning, a 15th-year veteran for the New York Giants.
Recalling that June 2016 invitation from Archie Manning, Mullens noted Monday how it gave him a chance to see where he stacked up against more “prominent” QBs, including fellow NFL upstarts Deshaun Watson and Josh Rosen. Oh, and Manning made an impression, too.
“To see how he moves in the pocket, he’s got very quick feet and was very, just, smooth,” Mullens recalled Monday. “I definitely remember sitting there, just watching him throw and took that all in.”
Mullens garnered a share of the camp’s Quarterback Challenge award. And, now, he’s earned himself a second straight start as the 49ers quarterback ahead of C.J. Beathard.
Mullens said coach Kyle Shanahan affirmed his role Tuesday, having produced a 262-yard, three-touchdown debut in last Thursday’s 34-3 rout of the Raiders. Shanahan did not announce it to the team as they reconvened after a four-day break, and he’s not slated to meet the media until Thursday.
“I’m done reflecting on it, to be honest. It’s time to get to the Giants,” Mullens said. “But it was a very cool moment. I tried to give it everything I have and when your work pays off, it’s exciting.”
Mullens’ emotions spilled over after the game, first in an interview with Fox and again as he headed for the locker room. During the game, however, Mullens looked composed, and, inside the huddle, he won over teammates more with the way he had to quiet coach Shanahan’s radio call so he could relay the play to teammates.
Even though teammates swear they weren’t shocked by Mullens’ breakout performance, most everyone else was. For example, he got verified on Twitter and went from 5,000 to 35,000 followers, and although he acknowledged how social media comes with today’s territory, he added: “I don’t worry about the things that don’t exactly matter.”
And what should the Giants think of him?
“I think they’re going to be, ‘Oh crap, this guy’s good’ ” said running back Matt Breida, who, like Mullens, joined the 49ers as an undrafted rookie last year. “Then they’re going to put more people back there in coverage, because of the throws he made and what he can do.”
After a 1-7 start that’s included a NFL-high 31 sacks, Manning remains the Giants starter. Rookie Kyle Lauletta, a fourth-round pick, hindered any immediate shot at unseating Manning after last week’s traffic-related arrest.
Manning’s 31 sacks already matched his 2017 total and they’re eight shy of his single-season career-high from 2013. He’s thrown for 2,377 yards with eight touchdowns, six interceptions and two lost fumbles.
Manning is 6-3 all-time against the 49ers, including a win in the 2011 season’s NFC Championship Game at Candlestick and a 31-21 loss last November at Levi’s Stadium. His wins have come against Cody Pickett, Trent Dilfer, J.T. O’Sullivan, Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick; losses vs. Smith, Kaepernick and Beathard.
Beathard had gone 0-5 as the starter following Jimmy Garoppolo’s season-ending knee injury. In Tuesday’s warmups (and in Thursday’s pregame action), Beathard showed no hindrance from injuries to his right wrist and thumb the preceding game at Arizona.
Source: MercuryNews | Cam Inman | November 6, 2018