Nick Mullens, SF 49ers engineer dominant Week 3 win over NY Giants

Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers under pressure from Markus Golden #44 of the New York Giants (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers under pressure from Markus Golden #44 of the New York Giants (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The SF 49ers got back into the win column over the NY Giants in Week 3, pulling off a 36-9 victory thanks to playmaking abilities from Nick Mullens.

The SF 49ers didn’t need quarterback Nick Mullens to be as effective as their injured starter, Jimmy Garoppolo, in Week 3 on the road against the New York Giants.

They just needed him to be effective enough, and he was and then some, as San Francisco pulled off a 36-9 Week 3 road win over the G-Men to improve to 2-1.

Amid the long list of injuries the Niners were dealing with, including Garoppolo (ankle) and tight end George Kittle (knee), Mullens still managed to do plenty enough to secure the win.

Meanwhile, New York’s offensive turnover issues continued into Week 3, as quarterback Daniel Jones’ reverse toss was dropped and subsequently recovered by recently promoted-off-the-practice squad EDGE Dion Jordan.

San Francisco managed a field goal off the turnover, then tacked on three more points when linebacker Fred Warner picked off Jones just before halftime, increasing the first-half lead over the G-Men to 16-6 after kicker Robbie Gould’s third field-goal of the first two quarters.

In total, the Niners won the turnover battle three to zero.

Jones was 17-of-32 for 179 yards, zero touchdowns, an interception and finished with a passer rating of 56.6. Mullens, meanwhile, was 25-of-36 for 343 yards, a touchdown against zero interceptions with a 108.9 passer rating in his first start since Week 17 of the 2018 season. A potential touchdown pass from Mullens to running back Jerick McKinnon was called back because of a penalty on right guard Daniel Brunskill, while another was a near miss to tight end Jordan Reed, whose left foot barely crossed the out-of-bounds marker on a would-have-been great touchdown grab.

Those misses hurt early, as the SF 49ers dominated the first-half time-of-possession battle 22:26 to 7:34 yet saw a 16-6 score going into halftime.

Part of the reason was how effective New York’s run defense was, limiting the Niners to an average of just 2.9 yards per carry during the first half and 2.8 overall in the game.

Still, McKinnon managed to find the end zone again for the third consecutive week.

New York got on the board first in the second half, cutting the deficit to 16-9 after some impressive runs by Jones, who managed 49 yards on the ground and was effectively all of the G-Men’s offense in the game.

Yet rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who had five catches for 70 yards, scored his first touchdown of his career on a 19-yard end-around rush to make things 23-9 in favor of San Francisco:

Hard not to see Aiyuk channel his inner Deebo Samuel on that play.

Running back Jeff Wilson, bumped up the depth chart amid knee injuries to runners Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert, added a 19-yard touchdown catch as well as a 2-yard rush late in the fourth quarter. Yet long-snapper Kyle Nelson, who botched multiple snaps on extra-point and field-goal attempts earlier, gaffed again and will cause some concern on special teams heading into Week 4.

Thankfully, San Francisco didn’t need Nelson to be on point during the game.

Jason Verrett’s return for SF 49ers

San Francisco’s attrition at cornerback opened up the door for oft-injured veteran corner Jason Verrett to make his first start since 2017 when he was with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Verrett, who saw only two snaps for the SF 49ers last season before going back on injured reserve, got the start and showed some excellent prowess on the field after being inactive with a hamstring injury the first two weeks.

He finished the game with three tackles, although the holding penalty against him in the third quarter was pretty ticky-tack. And if he stays healthy, it’s likely Verrett winds up starting opposite cornerback Richard Sherman when the latter returns from a calf injury.

SF 49ers bit by the injury bug again

On the play Reed nearly recorded a touchdown, the veteran went down awkwardly and suffered an ankle injury. He managed to return to the game a few plays later before exiting again while favoring his knee on the same leg.

He headed to the locker room early just before halftime.

Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley also ran into safety Jaquiski Tartt on a tackle attempt on Jones and left with a head injury.

These injuries add to those suffered by the Niners in Week 2 on the same field, namely losing pass-rushers Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas to season-ending ACL tears.

Next. 5 Niners who'll shine in Week 3 road bout vs. NY Giants. dark

Regardless, San Francisco has to feel good about getting out of MetLife Stadium without any apparently serious injuries and with a win in Week 3, now heading home to take on the scuffling Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4.