Why Jimmy G not in danger of losing starting job to Mullens originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
How quickly they forget your credentials.
Jimmy Garoppolo missed the 49ers' Week 3 win over the New York Giants with a high ankle sprain, and Nick Mullens played well in his absence, throwing for 343 yards and a touchdown in the win. That, naturally, led to thoughts of a potential quarterback controversy by the Bay.
Kyle Shanahan ethered those murmurs when he adamantly stated the 49ers were Garoppolo's team when healthy. All the same, if Garoppolo stumbles upon his return, there's little doubt cries for Mullens will echo from somewhere.
But if you ask NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms, Mullens has zero shot to take Garoppolo's job after the latter took the 49ers to the Super Bowl last season and showed how good he can be.
"Nick Mullens, he's the perfect backup," Simms told NBC Sports Bay Area. "I don't think he's ever going to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Jimmy Garoppolo is clearly a more talented player than Nick Mullens. There's no doubt about that. Yeah, Nick Mullens got to take advantage of a really bad Giants defense last week that, you know, put a lot of eggs in the 'we're going to stop the run game' basket. He got to take advantage of Kyle's great offense. And he did a really good job. I'm not trying to take away anything like that.
"But Garoppolo, one, I would still argue with people is pretty clutch. And Garoppolo's ability to deliver the football in little awkward ways or really quick when a guy pops open and you don't think he's going to be open and he can just get it out and get it there. That's where the stats really can't quantify how good he is at that stuff. Or, there's trash around the pocket and he throws like a little flick sidearm for a 15-yard completion.
"Like, Nick Mullens can't do those things. He's a little bit more robotic and needs to throw the ball the traditional way throw after throw after throw. Jimmy Garoppolo is a wheeler and dealer and he's pretty good at it. Even though he's not one of the best quarterbacks, I think he's clearly better than Nick Mullens and Shanahan ain't benching him.
Garoppolo opened the season with a stinker against the Arizona Cardinals in which he missed a number of easy throws and even had Simms calling him out for some "crappy" tosses near the end of the Week 1 loss. Garoppolo bounced back in Week 2 and shredded the pitiful New York Jets in the first half before exiting with that high ankle sprain.
The quarterback controversy talk comes from a place of frustration as it pertains to Garoppolo. Yes, he went 13-3 last season and is 20-6 as a starter in the regular season. Yes, he went 13-3 last season and took the 49ers to the Super Bowl. But for every impressive throw or engineered comeback, there's a terrible overthrow or cringe-worthy interception. Garoppolo's Week 1 dud against the Cardinals made it much easier for some to line up behind Mullens once he got a win against a bad Giants team.
After all, the backup quarterback is always the most popular player on the roster. The grass can always be greener, even for a team that was six minutes away from Super Bowl glory.
Garoppolo is an average NFL quarterback. There's nothing wrong with that. He gets paid handsomely for his effort and delivers wins when he's surrounded by talent. Garoppolo likely won't ever be a top-five or top 10 quarterback. Will Mullens? That seems doubtful.
The 49ers are Garoppolo's team until he loses Shanahan's faith. Once the ankle heals up, Garoppolo will once again be the guy under center. But the 49ers have the utmost confidence in Mullens should he be needed.
Having two starting-caliber quarterbacks isn't always a bad thing. As long as the pecking order is clear.
After the afternoon NFL games end Sunday, go to NBC Sports Bay Area or the MyTeams app at 4 p.m. PT for "49ers Pregame Live," as Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams, Matt Maiocco, Jennifer Lee Chan and Grant Liffmann preview the "Sunday Night Football" matchup against the Eagles. Then, after the game, come back for "49ers Postgame Live," with highlights, analysis, interviews and more.