49ers QB Mul­lens earns sec­ond start against Gi­ants

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Sports - JOSH DUBOW

SANTA CLARA, CALIF. — Nick Mul­lens knows how to make a good first im­pres­sion.

Whether it was wear­ing a suit to his pre-draft in­ter­view with the San Fran­cisco 49ers or set­ting records in his NFL de­but, Mul­lens has proven that he can get off on the right foot in a new sit­u­a­tion.

Now the key for Mul­lens head­ing into his sec­ond start for the 49ers (2-7) on Mon­day night against the New York Gi­ants will be build­ing on the big per­for­mance he had last week against the Oak­land Raiders to earn that sec­ond chance.

In­stead of get­ting rushed into ac­tion on a short week with no real prac­tice, Mul­lens gets the ben­e­fit of a full week of work with his team­mates as he tries to match the three-touch­down per­for­mance in a 34-3 win over the Raiders last Thurs­day night.

“He doesn’t have to cram ev­ery­thing in in a day and a half,” coach Kyle Shanahan said Thurs­day. “He’s got the whole week to kind of let it sat­u­rate, learn the play calls, spit them out eas­ier, get to throw some full­speed balls to all our play­ers; where last week there wasn’t one full-speed rep. I think it helps pre­pare him more and makes him more com­fort­able go­ing into the game.”

Mul­lens has felt com­fort­able ever since join­ing the Nin­ers. He im­pressed peo­ple by dress­ing up for the in­ter­view and even though he went un­drafted out of South­ern Mis­sis­sippi, he showed enough to stick around last year on the prac­tice squad.

Mul­lens kept work­ing hard, know­ing the of­fence as well as any­one and im­prov­ing at work­ing un­der cen­tre, af­ter spend­ing so much time in col­lege in the shot­gun that he had to watch YouTube videos to teach him­self how to drop back prop­erly.

“He worked as hard as any­one last year and he played scout team safety all last year,” Shanahan said. “We spent most of last year this time mess­ing with him on how bad his backpedal looked and things like that, on tape. But, he was a guy who just, he knew he had to do that, that’s how the league works. You don’t have enough guys to prac­tise and he didn’t just sit there and mope about it be­cause I get how peo­ple could be­cause it isn’t a fair sit­u­a­tion. But, he found ways to work on his own, to grab guys af­ter, to go out late at night and do stuff. He’s ob­sessed with get­ting bet­ter and he’s needed the time to do it and it helped him get ready for last week.”

That hard work paid off when Mul­lens got his first chance to play in a game when C.J. Beathard was ham­pered by a sore right wrist.

Mul­lens com­pleted 16 of 22 passes for 262 yards, three touch­downs and no in­ter­cep­tions, for a 151.9 passer rat­ing last week. That’s the high­est since the merger for a player in his de­but with at least 20 at­tempts.

Mul­lens also joined Hall of Famers Jim Kelly (1986) and Fran Tarken­ton (1961) as the only QBs to throw for at least 250 yards and three touch­downs with­out throw­ing an in­ter­cep­tion in their NFL debuts. That made it an easy call to give Mul­lens a sec­ond start this week, al­though Shanahan said he will eval­u­ate the quar­ter­backs on a week-to-week ba­sis.

“I don’t think it was too tough of a de­ci­sion,” said Shanahan. “Our team played re­ally well and he played well. It was go­ing to be hard to not give him the op­por­tu­nity.”

About the only time Mul­lens got flus­tered was when Shanahan kept talk­ing af­ter re­lay­ing the play call into Mul­lens’ hel­met. Mul­lens got frus­trated enough that team­mates said he told Shanahan to quiet down even though the hel­met of­fers only one-way com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

That ended up amus­ing his team­mates and light­en­ing the mood in the hud­dle.

“Some­times in the hud­dle, you hear the play call and you’re ready to re­peat it ...,” Mul­lens said. “I was just ready to call the play.”

Shanahan joked that Mul­lens will have to yell at him louder if he wants his coach to hear him on the side­line, but he un­der­stands the frus­tra­tion.

“That’s al­ways the dilemma for coaches and quar­ter­backs. It’s funny be­cause I know if I was a quar­ter­back and some­one was yelling in my ears, I would han­dle it much worse than those guys would. I strug­gle. I’ve al­most got­ten in trou­ble with head coaches for say­ing the wrong thing when you’re try­ing to think and make a play call and some­one’s yelling in your ear, it’s hard to think.”

BEN MAR­GOT THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Nick Mul­lens had a spec­tac­u­lar de­but per­for­mance against the Raiders, with three touch­downs , earn­ing him a sec­ond start against the Gi­ants.

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