SF 49ers shouldn’t rush Jimmy Garoppolo back after Nick Mullens start

Quarterback Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Quarterback Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

After defeating the New York Giants 36-9, the SF 49ers shouldn’t be rushing Jimmy Garoppolo back because of Nick Mullens.

For the first time since 2018, SF 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens was starting in a regular-season game again, being a key figure in the Niners’ lopsided 36-9 Week 3 road win over the New York Giants.

Of course we all know the story: starter Jimmy Garoppolo is injured and Mullens got the nod.

Many wanted Mullens to play after Garoppolo had some early season jitters. Now they’ve seen the fourth-year backup in action and a decision needs to be made about whether to rush Garoppolo back or not.

If, and only if, Garoppolo is 100 percent healthy, the SF 49ers should start him. However, if there’s any inkling Garoppolo isn’t feeling better to start next Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, there should be no hesitation to throw Mullens back under center.

The first half for Mullens went as well as many expected. He went 14-of-24 for 187 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Mullens had decent drives and used all his assets around him.

One of the issues in the first half was finishing drives. The first two possessions for San Francisco ended in field goals, which kept the Giants hanging around.

However, those Mullens-led drives took 10 minutes off the clock in the first quarter alone.

In the second half, he started to look more comfortable and had recorded a pass to at least 10 different receivers. Of those 10 receivers we saw Mullens connect with: rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who had131 total yards and his first career rushing touchdown, receiver Kendrick Bourne went off for 63 yards, and tight end Ross Dwelley contributed in the absence of Jordan Reed with four catches for 49 yards.

Once Mullens was able to find his flow and started managing the pocket, he looked to be unstoppable. Yes, there were some mistakes. But overall, the youngster proved he can start and run the offense.

Earlier in the week, I set three goals for Nick Mullens to achieve for this game and potentially any other start this season. They’re simple goals, but the SF 49ers didn’t need him to come in and be a superstar. To summarize they were:

  1. Stay healthy: check.
  2. Limit turnovers: check.
  3. Win: check.

Mullens finished the game going 25-of-36, 343 yards and one touchdown. He averaged just under 10 yards per attempt with a passer rating of 108.9.

Not bad for a backup.

As mentioned earlier, Garoppolo should only start if he’s feeling absolutely 100 percent. He was lucky his high-ankle sprain was deemed not major, but if the Niners want to keep him healthy long term, they’ll need to be cautious with how they handle his situation.

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

It was a great outing for Mullens and he proved he can still be a decent starter in the NFL. But now we wait to see what the SF 49ers decide to do for their Sunday Night Football matchup at Levi’s Stadium.