SF 49ers should kick themselves for not trading Nick Mullens

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

The SF 49ers had a chance to trade Nick Mullens back in 2019 but elected to keep him. A season later, that’s turned into a bad mistake.

The SF 49ers had a golden opportunity to “sell high” on backup quarterback Nick Mullens back in 2019.

Instead, the Niners aren’t even going to have a chance to “sell low.”

Let’s take a brief trip back to the end of 2018 when Mullens, an unsung and unheralded undrafted free agent, rose to prominence in the wake of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo‘s season-ending ACL tear earlier in the season and fellow signal-caller C.J. Beathard‘s continuing scuffles. Mullens came out with a bang against the Oakland Raiders on Thursday Night Football and proceeded to help San Francisco win three games of the four total it would have that season.

With Garoppolo coming back from injury in 2019, it only made sense for chatter to swirl about trading Mullens to one of the many quarterback-needy teams out there that offseason.

But no trade happened. And Mullens, with his stock value at a massive high at the end of 2018, didn’t see the field for any meaningful snaps the following year in which the SF 49ers made the Super Bowl with Garoppolo healthy.

Entering 2020, the Niners reportedly fielded trade inquiries for Mullens again, though, according to The Athletic’s Michael Lombardi (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area):

"The 49ers got a bunch of phone calls — when I say a bunch, a couple of teams — on Nick Mullens, the backup quarterback in San Francisco. Nick Mullens. They were asking about him, and they turned down every trade offer for Nick Mullens. They wouldn’t trade him.Think about that. Think about that. Nick Mullens was like — Cam Newton had no value, [and] Nick Mullens [is] untradeable. Just put that in perspective for a while. Digest that."


If you want a fun social experiment to see where the fanbase’s heads were collectively at, do a search of “don’t trade Nick Mullens.”

It was a pretty widespread sentiment with many fans and even analysts thinking Mullens was a highly valuable commodity.

He’s not that anymore.

2020 ruined SF 49ers’ chances to trade Nick Mullens

Whatever finite amount of success Mullens had in 2018 hasn’t materialized this season aside from a somewhat-impressive Week 3 outing against the NY Giants.

Entering Week 14 against the Washington Football Team, Mullens owned a 67.3 completion percentage, which was a middle-of-the-pack ranking among qualifiers. But his 3.7 touchdown percentage was tied for 24th with now-benched Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. And Mullens’ 3.7 interception percentage was tied for second highest along with the NY Jets’ Sam Darnold.

The numbers alone aren’t great. And they won’t be helped by Mullens’ 25-of-45 mark against Washington in Week 14 where he tossed an interception but also threw one of the worst interceptions of his career by failing to recognize the Football Team’s safety, Kamren Curl, waiting just above his intended target in the flat:


Unfortunately, plays like this have become all too common. Mullens’ 10 interceptions thrown on the year could have been a lot higher, too, considering the number of dangerous and ill-advised passes he’s made.

There’s not much to be salvaged from a perspective/roster/scheme side of things with regards to that.

Mullens is now going to be a restricted free agent this offseason, yet the SF 49ers could simply not offer him a second or original-round tender, letting him test the open market. If anything, the Niners need to revamp their entire quarterback room behind Garoppolo.

Or including Garoppolo, should that be the route they take.

Next. 5 day-three quarterbacks 49ers should look at in 2021 NFL Draft. dark

Either way, Mullens hasn’t done anything to help any trade value he had earlier this season. And San Francisco has to be regretting its lack of action on those reported requests from not long ago.