SF 49ers: 3 players who help Nick Mullens most in 2020

Nick Mullens #4 of the SF 49ers (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Nick Mullens #4 of the SF 49ers (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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Nick Mullens, George Kittle, SF 49ers
Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers passes to George Kittle #85 (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

With SF 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo out for the next several weeks, backup Nick Mullens will need help from his offensive weapons.

In one of the more confusing victories I’ve ever watched, the SF 49ers beat the New York Jets 31-13 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

But in the process of upping their record to 1-1 on the young season, the 49ers added to their ever-lengthening injury list.

EDGE Nick Bosa and defensive tackle Solomon Thomas were reported to have ACL injuries, with Bosa’s possibly a season-ending tear. Running back Raheem Mostert has a mild MCL sprain, and a timetable for his return isn’t yet clear.

And finally, the Niners will be missing starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on a week-to-week basis with a high ankle sprain, although he played well after having injured himself, finishing the first half 14-of-16 for 131 yards and two touchdowns along with a QBR of 99.6 and a quarterback rating of 140.4 before exiting the game at halftime.

Most importantly, Garoppolo was looking sharp, even on a bum ankle, which suggests he’s in a better place than he was during his rusty Week 1 performance.

So the SF 49ers are looking at missing games without their starter, likely at least a matchup at the New York Giants next (once again on the “sticky” turf of MetLife Stadium), with a home contest against the Philadelphia Eagles also maybe in question depending on the severity, although head coach Kyle Shanahan seems optimistic.

The Miami Dolphins and the Los Angeles Rams follow that if the original four- to six-week timetable comes into play. Worst-case scenario, Garoppolo could also miss the trips to New England and Seattle in Weeks 7 and 8, two teams that could present problems for even a healthy San Francisco squad.

In Garoppolo’s place steps backup Nick Mullens, who finished the Jets game completing 8 of 11 throws for 71 yards, zero touchdowns and an interception that wasn’t fully his fault. He was also sacked twice for a loss of 17 yards, his QBR was just 2.3 and his quarterback rating was 51.7.

To be fair, Mullens grew into the game after an abysmal start to the second half and coasted the SF 49ers into a comfortable win over the Jets, who seem destined to be among the worst teams in the NFL in 2020. And with a full week of first-team reps, he should be better set up for success in his first start of the year.

Still, he will likely be starting at least one if not two games, and though the schedule doesn’t look terrible daunting (all three of their next opponents have started the campaign 0-2), in any case, Mullens will need help from his offensive weapons.

Here are the three he’ll need the most over his tenure as a starter for however long it lasts.