San Francisco 49ers: Let’s pump the brakes on the Mullens hype machine

SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up prior to their game against the Oakland Raiders at Levi's Stadium on November 1, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up prior to their game against the Oakland Raiders at Levi's Stadium on November 1, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens is the flavor of the week after a stunning debut, and the hype machine is working overtime.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback is learning a little bit about the rock star life in the NFL. After a scintillating debut performance, Nick Mullens has become the flavor of the week and has talking heads – and even some NFL legends – singing his praises.

The Mullens hype train has picked up more steam with the announcement that he would start this week against the Giants.

But, come on – what was HC Kyle Shanahan going to do? Throw gimp-wristed C.J. Beathard back into the fire? Especially after gimp-wristed C.J. Beathard has gone 0-5 this season, bringing his overall starting with Shanahan and the 49ers to a sizzling 1-9.

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Shanahan’s other option against the Giants of course, would have been to throw Tom Savage out there. But, last we checked, Tom Savage is still Tom Savage – which pretty much makes that idea a non-starter.

And so, in light of his sterling performance against Oakland – and not having any better options – Shanahan ultimately had little choice but to roll with Mullens on Monday night.

But hey, credit where credit is due, Mullens deserves the opportunity. He earned his chance to prove himself. He absolutely came out on fire and dominated the Raiders. Shanahan would have been foolish to not roll him out again to see what the kid can do.

And make no mistake about it – Mullens had himself a night.

In that Thursday night clash, former UDFA Mullens replaced the aforementioned gimp-wristed Beathard, and went 16-22 for 262 yards with three touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a sparkling 151.9 QB rating.

Mullens tore up Oakland’s defense in leading the 49ers to a 34-3 thrashing of their soon-to-be ex-cross Bay rivals.

Also Read. Oakland Raiders: Not All Rebuilds Created Equally. light

It wasn’t long after the final gun though, that the hype train got itself rolling as San Francisco fans across the Internet couldn’t heap enough praise on the kid. Which is probably to be expected in a league – and a society – as “what have you done for me lately” as the NFL and ours are.

Well, Mullens certainly did a lot for a lot of people against the Raiders. But the hype train wasn’t just carrying the 49ers faithful on board. Even San Francisco legend Jerry Rice hopped on during an interview with 95.7 The Game, praising Mullens’ performance – and threw out some very lofty praise.

"“Nick Mullens, he was just unbelievable. I don’t like to compare people, but just to see his composure on the football field, it was almost like Jimmy G.”"

After one start, Mullens has already relegated San Francisco’s $137.5 million dollar man, Jimmy Garoppolo, to last week’s, “flavor of the week” status, apparently – sentiments that had some fans frothing at the mouth even harder.

Brett Favre, another NFL legend himself – and like Mullens, a Southern Missippi alum – also chimed in on the his performance. And suffice it to say, he raised some eyebrows with a vague, “not really a comparison, comparison,” between Mullens and another quarterback who will be a legend when his playing days are done.

"“If we think back a few years ago, a lot of years ago, I’m saying this jokingly, Tom Brady, no one had heard of him … he comes in and now we think of him as maybe the greatest if not the greatest player of all time He made the most of his opportunities. It can happen. It does happen. And it will happen.”"

The spirit of what Favre is saying seems clear enough – that Mullens had an opportunity to make something happen and he did. And if he continues to make things happen whenever he has an opportunity, maybe he too can go down as one of the greats. Maybe.

However, what some people heard, was him comparing Mullens to Tom Brady – and in looking at the reactions from some folk online, they agree with him. After one game! Yes, it was a good game, but it was still one game.

Yes, based on that one game Mullens deserves a chance to start. With Garoppolo out for the rest of the year, Mullens should be given the rest of the games San Francisco has on their schedule to start. But, does that mean he’s the second coming of Brady, Favre, or even Garoppolo?

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If your answer to that is yes, we suggest unplugging your computer and going outside for a little fresh air.

See, not to throw (more) cold water on the Mullens love-fest, but let’s not pretend he carved up anything resembling a competent defense. He dissected the Raiders – a team that currently ranks twenty-seventh overall defensively, not to mention thirty-first overall in points allowed. This is a defense that ranks twenty-fourth against the pass and is dead last against the run.

It’s not like Mullens went out and beat up on a tough Rams defense, or even a slightly more competent Browns defense. He carved up a defense that can’t stop anybody from moving the ball, and certainly can’t stop them from scoring.

Let’s also not forget that Mullens had plenty of help. In addition to having a running game that gashed the Raiders for 143 yards, keeping them on their heels, and chasing their backs all night, Oakland – as has been the case all season – was unable to muster any sort of a pass rush. Like, at all. The Raiders generated zero sacks – and have just seven total on the season – and just two hits on Mullens.

Mullens had an effective ground game, zero pressure, and a clean pocket the entire night. Operating in those ideal conditions, C.J. Beathard could have put up numbers – JaMarcus Russell probably could have put up numbers.

And with his next start against a Giants team that’s been every bit as dreadful as the Raiders have been this year, he’s likely going to put up some numbers again, and Mullens’ legend will likely only continue to grow.

This is not to say that Mullens doesn’t have talent, and doesn’t have the potential to be a solid NFL quarterback. After all, over his career at Southern Mississippi (2013-16), he set school records for most yards (11,994), touchdowns (87), attempts (1,546) and – interceptions (46).

It’s simply saying, let’s pump the brakes on the hype train just a little bit here. He’s had one start in the league. And while it was an impressive one start, let’s also not forget that he not only had a lot of help from his own team, but played an inferior opponent as well.

Next. Comparing Mullens' Debut With Other Recent 49ers QB's. dark

At this point, throwing out comparisons – or even vague allusions – to the likes of Brady or even Garappolo for that matter (though, experience-wise, they are similar), seems a little premature and a whole lot ludicrous.

Mullens appears to have some upside, no question. He was decisive and very smart with the ball against the Raiders. Again though, it’s not like he went up against a heavyweight opponent or anything. Nor will he be facing stiff competition in his second start.

Until he actually plays – and performs – against a competent defense, it’s probably a little too soon to start molding his bust for Canton. Just sayin’.