SF 49ers lose Deebo Samuel, Nick Mullens rag-dolled in loss to Washington

Quarterback Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers is sacked by defensive end Chase Young #99 of the Washington Football Team (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Quarterback Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers is sacked by defensive end Chase Young #99 of the Washington Football Team (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

The SF 49ers suffered both injury and insult in their loss to Washington, as Deebo Samuel injured his hamstring and Nick Mullens looked awful.

The SF 49ers‘ crucial Week 14 “home” matchup against the visiting Washington Football Team got off to an ominous start as wide receiver Deebo Samuel suffered a hamstring injury on one of his trademark end-around rushes, which just so happened to be the Niners’ first offensive play of the game.

Samuel already missed three games earlier this season because of a hamstring injury, adding just one more negative element to what has been an injury-plagued 2020 for San Francisco.

The other negative element, of course, was losing to the Washington Football Team 23-15 in Week 14 and falling to 5-8 with the postseason out of reach in everything but official rankings only.

It took nearly a full quarter for the SF 49ers to bounce back from Samuel’s injury, thanks to No. 2 running back Jeff Wilson Jr. punching it in from 2 yards out to give them a 7-0 lead.

Running the ball was going to be one of the keys behind a would-be Niners victory, and Wilson had 31 of the their 108 total yards on the ground, while fellow halfback Raheem Mostert added 65 and averaged 4.6 yards per attempt. But other factors, namely turnovers, forced head coach Kyle Shanahan to deviate from that plan.

Mostert also exited the game with an injury along with left tackle Trent Williams, although Williams returned after missing one drive. Mostert did, too, after being looked at for a head injury.

Still, the injury concerns for San Francisco continue to mount. And just after the third quarter started, linebacker Fred Warner suffered a shoulder/head injury and exited the game.

First, Samuel, one of the SF 49ers’ best offensive players. Then Warner, their best defender.

Leading 7-3 late in the first half, Wilson fumbled in Niners territory after Washington EDGE Chase Young knocked the ball loose. Young was all over the place during the game, forcing that fumble that resulted in three more points for Washington, while adding six tackles, a pass batted down and a sack. For some reason, San Francisco wasn’t exactly intent on blocking him.

Young then picked up a loose ball from quarterback Nick Mullens, then returned it for a 47-yard touchdown to put Washington in the lead at 13-7:

That might be one of the biggest wonders from Week 14.

So was the lack of offensive prowess in the face of Washington’s stout defensive front, as the SF 49ers failed to get much of anything going outside of its initial touchdown. And that pressure forced Mullens into yet another turnover, a pick-six interception where he didn’t see Washington safety Kamren Curl, who red the quarterback’s attempted throw to fullback Kyle Juszczyk:

Disastrous. Plain and simple. At least Mullens found Juszczyk in the fourth quarter for a touchdown.

Nick Mullens, SF 49ers offense falters against tough Washington defense

True, Mullens didn’t have the best bonus of playing behind an elite offensive line. And that O-line was bullied for much of the game by Young, EDGE Montez Sweat and a top-level Washington defensive line.

So it shouldn’t be too big a surprise Mullens went 25-of-45 for 256 yards with a touchdown against one interception while taking four sacks, all for a 68.2 passer rating. The fumble lost to Young also led to a minus-1 turnover differential for San Francisco, which was a key reason behind the defeat.

Mullens also missed open targets, including wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk on an overthrow that could have gone for six points if the quarterback led his receiver instead.

Those kinds of mistakes continue to reveal why Mullens is nothing more than an average backup. It’s evidently clear the SF 49ers have little more than a third-string quarterback at the helm of the offense with him on the field.

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A restricted free agent next season, Mullens’ future can certainly be put in doubt.

Just like the slim playoff chances the Niners had entering the game, which took a massive hit by the Week 14 loss.