SF 49ers should trade Nick Mullens before the deadline

Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens, SF 49ers
Nick Mullens #4 and Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

Future of the SF 49ers Quarterback Room

Nick Mullens has flashed at times, struggled at others, and overall shown himself to be exactly what the realistic best-case is with a UDFA quarterback: a quality backup capable of treading water while the starter heals. That’s not a bad thing by any means, but it’s important to frame Mullens in the right light when talking about this.

The SF 49ers currently have three quarterbacks on the roster: Mullens, Jimmy Garoppolo, and C.J. Beathard. Garoppolo is the unquestioned starter out of these three, and Mullens, despite a brief benching against the Eagles, is the backup. Beathard is another story that cannot be reasonably explained, so I’m not even going to get into his situation.

Garoppolo is also being paid a handsome amount, though the contract value relative to the league’s quarterback price has reduced. With an AAV (average annual value) of $27.5 million, it’s safe to say the Niners have hooked onto him for the long haul, right?

Well, it’s not that simple.

Under the team-friendly contract structure generated by contracts negotiator Paraag Marathe with nearly every player, Garoppolo’s contract has an easy out after this year, leaving the Niners with a relatively clean balance sheet.

Garoppolo’s play this year has also been fine but not spectacular, prompting questions about whether the SF 49ers would try to make a move for either a player through a trade or in the draft.

In any case, it seems the Niners may try to add some fresh faces to the position group.

If the Niners move on from Garoppolo, which I’m not sure if they do, the replacement — either a rookie or a high-priced veteran — would take the starting position without question, leaving Mullens with no better role than he has now. The only difference would be that his contract tolled one more year, leaving less time and less leverage for the Niners to potentially recoup value.

The other situation would be the SF 49ers keeping Garoppolo but drafting a player to groom in the wings and develop. In that case, keeping Mullens on the roster would provide no additional value since the rookie behind Garoppolo would be the new backup.

In short, the uncertainty of the SF 49ers quarterback room makes it likely that there is no real future for Mullens in San Francisco. Some attempt to recoup value should happen.

The question becomes: Why now?