- This week’s edition of “Thursday Night Football” became a sensational breakout game for the young San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens.
- The second-year quarterback completed 16 of 22 passing attempts for 262 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions en route to a 34-3 trouncing of the Oakland Raiders.
- A product of the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, Mullens was so unknown before Thursday night’s contest that Twitter did not verify his account with a blue checkmark until midway through the game.
- The 23-year-old Hoover, Alabama, native also delivered an inspiring postgame speech that drew cheers from his teammates and coaches.
This week’s edition of “Thursday Night Football” was set to be a snoozefest featuring two teams whose hopes of making the playoffs died early this season.
Instead, it became a sensational breakout game for the young San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens.
A product of the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, Mullens signed with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent in May 2017 and spent the better part of a year on the 49ers’ practice squad. When the team’s starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, suffered an ACL tear in September, San Francisco brought the 23-year-old onto the team’s active roster.
But before Mullens began to prove himself worthy of the starting role Thursday night, virtually no one had taken notice of the Hoover, Alabama, native. In fact, he was so unknown that Twitter first verified his account only midway through Thursday night’s contest:
Operation #GetNickMullensVerified already SUCCEEDED ????????????
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 2, 2018
Mullens certainly earned that blue checkmark next to his name. He completed 16 of 22 passing attempts for 262 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions en route to a 34-3 trouncing of the Oakland Raiders in the final “Battle of the Bay” before the Raiders are due to move to Las Vegas. Mullens’ whopping 151.9 passer rating comes within 6.4 of the perfect 158.3 score – a feat achieved just twice since the young quarterback first signed with San Francisco. His passer rating was also the best among debuting quarterbacks with at least 20 passing attempts since 1970, according to ESPN’s Nick Wagoner.
“He’s a machine in there and I was happy for him,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said, per Wagoner. “He didn’t surprise us in terms of, the game’s not too big for Nick. He’s very poised. He is always locked in. The guys, they respect him. He earned a lot of respect in the preseason, them watching him play. Both years, last year and this year.”
Mullens celebrated his exceptional performance by delivering an inspiring postgame speech in the locker room. He mentioned the 49ers’ hard-fought, 24-21 preseason win against the Dallas Cowboys, in which he completed 11 of 13 attempts for 141 yards and a touchdown to spark San Francisco’s 14-point fourth-quarter comeback.
“When we won against the Cowboys, we came to this locker room and I said, ‘It’s only preseason, but that’s why we play the game,'” Mullens said. “Well this isn’t preseason, and that’s why we play the damn game!”
Check out the full video, including comments from Shanahan, below:
Mullens and the 49ers would have some extra time to enjoy their first win in nearly two months before preparing to take on the wayward New York Giants for Monday Night Football on November 12.