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Nick Mullens came into Thursday night’s game as a virtual unknown. Plenty of people will remember what he did against the Oakland Raiders.
Mullens, who most people probably couldn’t name a few days ago, started at quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. He was undrafted last year, spent all season on the practice squad, was cut after preseason this year and went back on the practice squad. But he had to start on “Thursday Night Football” because Jimmy Garoppolo is out for the season and C.J. Beathard had a wrist injury that won’t allow him to grip the ball. It was Mullens’ first NFL action.
No problem. Mullens sliced through the butter-soft Raiders defense on his first NFL drive. It ended with a touchdown. So did his second drive. By the end of the night, Mullens had a 151.9 rating, the 49ers had a 34-3 win and Mullens couldn’t stop from getting a bit choked up when Fox’s Erin Andrews talked to him after the game.
“This is everything I dreamed of,” Mullens said.
Andrews commented that he seemed to be getting emotional.
“I just love football,” Mullens said. “Growing up, played since second grade, this is why you play, for something like this.”
It’s the type of night every practice squad player and backup dreams of having, if he would ever just get the chance.
Nick Mullens started hot
Mullens hit all three of his passes on the first drive for 41 yards. On a play-action fake — and not a tremendously great fake — Raiders safety Reggie Nelson completely bit on the handoff and Pierre Garcon was wide open for the easy score. Garcon gave Mullens the ball as a keepsake.
Then on the 49ers’ second drive Mullens drove the 49ers downfield again and hit Kendrick Bourne in the end zone on third-and-goal from the 4-yard line. Two drives, two touchdowns for Mullens.
That kind of start was quite unusual.
Mullens never made any real mistakes. He finished 16-of-22 for 262 yards and three touchdowns. It was a surprising and impressive performance, and on top of everything it came on a short week. It’ll be interesting to see if 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan gives Mullens another start, even if Beathard is healthy next week.
Mullens might be the next Tony Romo or Kurt Warner for all we know, an undrafted success story out of nowhere. It’s probably more likely he caught a nice matchup against an incompetent defense, but no matter what happens down the road, Thursday night will be a night he’ll always remember.
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