San Francisco 49ers: Comparing & contrasting Nick Mullens, C.J. Beathard

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GLENDALE, AZ – OCTOBER 28: Quarterback C.J. Beathard #3 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before the game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on October 28, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The San Francisco 49ers are going to be faced with a decision at quarterback in 2019, whether Nick Mullens or C.J. Beathard should back up Jimmy Garoppolo. Let’s look at some evidence.

If you were basing an argument off recent sentiments alone, the San Francisco 49ers‘ clear-cut choice for backup quarterback in 2019 would be Nick Mullens. Not C.J. Beathard.

It seems pretty obvious as to which signal-caller holds the clipboard for Jimmy Garoppolo next year. Mullens has three of the 49ers’ four wins this season to his credit, while Beathard has just one win over his two-year career.

Ah, but the quarterback-wins argument is silly. There’s far more to be examined here.

For starters, it already looks as if head coach Kyle Shanahan has no intention of giving Beathard in-game reps for the rest of 2018.

“We’d love to get C.J. more playing time, but Nick’s earned it and I’m not taking him out,” Shanahan said earlier this week.

Mullens now has six starts to his credit, whereas Beathard has five from this season. Tacking on Beathard’s five starts from 2017, though, Mullens would need these remaining two starts to provide more evidence to Shanahan for his eventual 2019 depth-chart decision.

Let’s help Shanahan out a bit, shall we?

Taking 2018 stats into consideration, look at the following side-by-side numbers:

49ers 2018 Passing Table
4Nick Mullens23663-3-064.51754104.963.08.613.4292.396.013
3C.J. Beathard25650-5-060.4125284.774.17.412.3208.781.818
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/19/2018.


Based off the traditional stats, Mullens is the clear-cut choice. He has a higher completion percentage and passer rating, better touchdown-to-interception ratio and is averaging far more pass yards per game while avoiding more sacks.

But there are a few factors and X-factors needing to be worked in here. For example, a primarily young cast of offensive playmakers, such as rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis, didn’t come on until as of late. Has Pettis’ maturation and growth been a direct result of Mullens’ abilities? Or is Pettis helping bolster the former undrafted quarterback’s numbers after not having done so with Beathard? It’s a classic “chicken or the egg” argument.

There are other tangible arguments and pointers, though, so let’s jump in there.

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