San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens deserves to see an increased role over the second half of 2018.
There is more to this neighborhood drubbing than meets the eye, however.
Through the first eight weeks of the season, fans have become fairly well acquainted with the Niners depth chart. While rotating players of certain positions can be a sound strategy, the revolving door the 49ers employ has been built out of necessity. It is quite easy to argue that no team has been impacted more by injuries this year than San Francisco.
Quarterback Nick Mullens‘ start Thursday night, a product of injuries, gave the team it’s best-rated game by a 49ers QB since 2012. Of course, there are a lot of “yeah buts” to this argument. None of which make it any less true.
This 49ers team is in a unique position, no matter how unenviable, of being able to give their entire roster a stress test. In a league where QB play makes or breaks a team’s chances at winning, there is no position that requires more clarity.
The simplest solution to this is to increase Mullens’ role in the second half of 2018.
Thus far, second-year, third-round NFL Draft pick, C.J. Beathard, has started 10 games between 2017 and 2018. He has turned the ball over at least once in all but one of those games. With a combined record of 1-9, Beathard has become the quarterback on this roster the team knows the most about.
Between franchise starter Jimmy Garoppolo, Mullens and Beathard no one has more starts under center than the latter. In those starts, the over-arching sentiment of the fanbase has been one of tolerance.
This quarterback will not take the team anywhere. He is a stop-gap. Best deployed sparingly.
The objective of this season has transformed from one of optimistic contention to discovery. There is no better time to find out the strengths and weaknesses of the roster than now. The goal should be to have as few unknown commodities on the roster as possible by season’s end.
As of right now, there may be no player who is more of an unknown than Mullens. The team will never truly know what they have in him if he doesn’t get starts. There should be no second guessing. No flip-flopping. No demotions.
In the the final “Battle of the Bay,” Mullens looked competent. Taking advantage of one of the leagues best offensive lines, he completed 72 percent of his passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Had the game been close, or the Raiders able to stop the 49ers run game, his stat line may have had even more gaudy.
Obviously, this is only one game, against an inept Raiders team. That is also the exact reason Mullens should get the nod for the remainder of the season. If 2018 is a game of blackjack, why wouldn’t the 49ers want their cards face up?
The Niners do not have a legitimate starting quarterback right now. No team in NFL history is as closely associated with great QB play as the 49ers. Exactly how long it has been since the team has had the type of quarterback who protects the ball, leads a huddle and makes plays under pressure can be debated.
What cannot be debated is there are no bona fides on the roster as currently constructed. None that we know of… yet.