SANTA CLARA – Quarterback Nick Mullens’ NFL debut was a memorable one.
Mullens delivered in a big way, as the 49ers ended their six-game losing streak with a 34-3 victory over the Raiders on Thursday night at Levi’s Stadium.
Mullens, an undrafted first-year player from Southern Mississippi, got the call against the Raiders because 49ers starter C.J. Beathard was less than 100 percent due to right wrist and thumb injuries.
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Mullens put together a strong showing against Jon Gruden’s beleaguered Raiders. Mullens completed 16 of 22 passes for 262 yards with three touchdowns. He was not intercepted. Mullens’ passer rating was 151.9.
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Here are three quick takeaways from the 49ers’ win over the Raiders:
Mullens’ blazing start: The entire playbook was open to Nick Mullens, who has been with the 49ers since signing in the spring of 2017.
The 49ers’ offense rolled smoothly, as Mullens converted the team’s first four third –down opportunities and threw touchdowns to cap his first two drives.
Mullens found wide receiver Pierre Garçon all alone for a 24-yard touchdown pass after the Raiders kicked a field goal on their opening drive. Then, Mullens and Kendrick Bourne hooked up for a 4-yard score on the next possession.
Mullens became just the second 49ers quarterback since at least 2000 to throw touchdown passes on each of the first two drives of a game. Colin Kaepernick also threw TD passes on his first drives of the 2014 season opener against Dallas.
Through the first half, Mullens completed 12 of 17 passes for for 167 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 141.1. The 49ers led 17-3 at halftime.
Pass-rush emerges: The 49ers entered Thursday with one of the most anemic pass-rushes in the NFL. But against the Raiders, the team generated consistent pressure on Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.
The 49ers recorded 16 sacks in their first eight games, but pressured Carr in the first half for four sacks and finished with seven sacks for the game.
Cassius Marsh recorded 2½ sacks. Dekoda Watson, who made his season debut after spending the first eight weeks on injured reserve, was credited with 1½ sacks. DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas and Ronald Blair had one sack apiece.
Carr was taken out of the game in the fourth quarter after completing 16 of 22 passes for 171 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
Closing it out: In six of the 49ers’ first eight games, they held lead or had been within one score in the fourth. Their only victory, however, came in Week 2, when they nearly let a 17-point lead get away against the Detroit Lions.
So, yes, closing has been an issue for Shanahan’s team.
That was not the case on Thursday night. Although the 49ers were playing on a short week after a tough loss against the Arizona Cardinals, they looked well-rested and fast against the Raiders.
The 49ers blew the game open at the start of the third quarter with back-to-back touchdown drives. Tight end George Kittle had a 71-yard reception of a risky Mullens pass in traffic. Two plays later, Mullens hit Kittle for a 5-yard touchdown pass. Kittle finished with four catches for 108 yards.
Running back Raheem Mostert scored on a zig-zagging 52-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Mostert later exited the game with what appeared to be a serious right forearm injury. Mostert gained 86 yards on seven rushing attempts.