It took the NFL Regional Combine stage six years to get the quarterback position into the spotlight. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens will take the helm against the Oakland Raiders and kickoff Week Nine of the NFL in historical fashion.
The 49ers lost starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the season due to an ACL injury in September and C. J. Beathard stepped in, which allowed Mullens to be promoted to the active roster for the opportunity of a life time. Since Garoppolo’s injury, the 49ers have not won a game, despite being competitive.
Mullens is a proven winner and a solid quarterback from Southern Mississippi in Conference USA. At Southern Mississippi, Mullens started for majority of his collegiate career. In 2015, he was named Conference USA Player of the Year as he finished with a 9-5 record amassing 4,476 passing yards and 38 touchdowns.
Still, that was not enough to garner attention from NFL scouts.
Mullens ventured through the New Orleans-held NFL Regional Combine trial in 2017, and commanded everyone’s respect.
Out of all the skill positions monitored through the discovery stage, the quarterback is most difficult to judge. Quarterbacks are at the mercy of unknown pass catchers, and oftentimes, they have made throwers of the ball look bad. Due to unfamiliarity with the quarterback and pass catcher, the receivers dictated to the quarterbacks how to deliver the ball to them.
The talented quarterback in Mullens forced the pass catchers at the workout to come up to his level as he dictated to them how to catch an NFL pass.
Mullens is the third quarterback from the RC to be on an NFL team’s active roster. B.J. Daniels is the first quarterback, followed by Joe Callahan. (Daniels was the first to throw a pass during the regular season, dating back to December of 2015).
Daniels currently plays in the CFL for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, while Callahan is a free agent. Mullens is probably the most capable quarterback from the platform to sustain a career in the league due to his competitive play at the collegiate level.
Mullens excelled and earned a spot on the 49ers’ roster to ultimately make their practice squad last season as a rookie. Knowing that the 49ers needed a signal caller, they drafted Beathard in the third round last season and he made their active roster.
When Garoppolo signed his mega deal, Mullens’ opportunity to crack a spot on the active roster appeared to be impossible. So, Mullens competed against Beathard during the preseason and showed out.
Beathard completed 60 percent of his passing and did not throw a touchdown pass, while Mullens completed 72 percent of his attempts, passed for a touchdown and rushed for two scores during the exhibition.
Mullens led the 49ers in a comeback win over the Dallas Cowboys during Week One of the preseason and raised some eyebrows. The 49ers signed Mullens to the practice squad, recognizing his abilities and will to win.
After a tough contest against the Arizona Cardinals in Week Eight, Beathard had difficulties gripping the ball, which led to Mullens’ opportunity to be on the national stage Thursday night against the Raiders.
For the Raiders, RC pioneer wide receiver Seth Roberts lead the way for platform. Roberts has two touchdowns on the season.
Roberts came through the discovery stage in 2014 and holds the record for having the second most receiving touchdowns by an undrafted free agent in franchise history (13).
49ers rookie receiver Steven Dunbar Jr. came through process this year and is on the practice squad.
Week Nine, here we go.