The Eagles officially signed Nick Mullens earlier this week. In order to learn more about him, I reached out to Kyle Posey from Niners Nation for a San Francisco 49ers perspective on Philadelphia’s new quarterback.
1 - Can you recap Mullens’ time with the 49ers?
Mullens’s time with the 49ers was a journey, to say the least. He went from a UDFA in ‘17 to make the roster in ‘18 once Jimmy Garoppolo went down with an injury. After a second injury to C.J. Beathard, Mullens found himself as a starting QB in the NFL just a year later. He played well enough to earn the nod as QB2 and wound up starting eight games in 2020.
He took a lot of flack this past season, but backup quarterbacks aren’t supposed to play as much as Mullens did during his time in San Francisco, especially third-stringers. When he played, the 49ers still found ways to be productive. The wildest stat, and I’m sure some of you have seen the graphic, was Mullens only trailing Patrick Mahomes for the most passing yards for a quarterback in his first 16 starts.
2 - What was the reaction to the 49ers letting him walk in free agency?
There was still a sour taste in many fans’ minds after Mullens didn’t finish the season so hot and left with an injury, so there wasn’t this outcry to resign Mullens. I think the best opportunity for both sides would have been to part ways, and that’s what happened.
Context is key, and Mullens went above and beyond what the team could have ever expected from him when he was brought in as a UDFA, but his lack of physical tools was exposed, and many fans were over him.
3 - What are Mullens’ strengths?
During Monday Night Football this past season against the Bills, ESPN’s Louis Riddick told people that the 49ers coaches felt like Mullens was the smartest QB in the Niners QB room. When the team lost Jimmy G against Seattle, Kyle Shanahan started to push the ball down the field more, and the offense had success.
Mullens’s biggest strengths are playing on time and knowing where to go with the football. He’s also a “sneaky” good athlete who can occasionally make a play in the pocket with his legs. For a backup QB, Mullens is plenty accurate and can make plays to win for you in a spot start.
4 - What are Mullens’ weaknesses?
Mullens has a noodle arm. When he’s not playing on time, the field shrinks, and defenses know it. There’s only so much you can do as a play-caller when your QB can’t drive the ball outside of the numbers, down the field, or over the middle with velocity. At his size, Mullens seems to get banged up a bit for a QB. He’s only 6’1, 210 pounds.
5 - Mullens currently figures to be the Eagles’ No. 3 QB. Given that he’s still 26, do you think he still has potential to be a quality No. 2? And do you think he could actually be a better option than Joe Flacco in 2021?
Mullens showed he’s a serviceable backup during his time with the 49ers. He’s 5-11 in his career with a 25/22 TD/INT ratio. To Mullens’ credit, he was playing with a ton of backups around him in 2020. Had Mullens had the full arsenal of weapons on the roster, he would have hovered around .500. Mullens is a better decision-maker, but he doesn’t have the playing experience as Flacco does. I’m rooting for Nick and hope he beats Flacco out, but who knows about the politics that go into it and if Mullens would even get a fair shot at the QB2 job. I wouldn’t hold my breath on him beating out Flacco.
6 - Anything else to know about him off the field?
He’s a guy who everyone rooted for in the locker room. George Kittle said he would wear headphones during the week at max volume and call out plays to simulate crowd noise. The players would see him out there after practice going through the game script by himself.
Mullens suffered an injury during college where a bone was sticking out of his skin. He got it stitched up, and some of the turf was stuck in there.
This past season, Mullens’s Twitter account was hacked, and he sent out probably about 50 or so tweets saying he has PS5’s to sell for $350.
49ers fans gave Mullens the same nickname as Nick Foles: BDN.
BLG’s take: It remains to be seen where Mullens is at in his recovery from an elbow injury that required surgery. It was previously reported that Mullens would be ready for training camp. That he’s the only other quarterback on the roster behind Jalen Hurts and Joe Flacco seems to suggest he’ll indeed be ready. Mullens will likely take all the third-string reps and help the Eagles get through summer practices and preseason games. He should be in a position to compete for the No. 2 job but it’s hard to see the Eagles allowing Joe Flacco to lose that role after giving him $3.5 million guaranteed. Philly might believe in Mullens, 26, enough as a developmental player to keep him on the roster this year. Or he might stink it up and get cut.
Lowest % of accurate passes thrown from a clean pocket in 2020, per @PFF— PFF PHI Eagles (@PFF_Eagles) June 14, 2021
29. Nick Mullens (58%)
30. Sam Darnold (56%)
31 Mitch Trubisky (53%)
32. Carson Wentz (52%) https://t.co/AhVEehYOD4