Niners quarterback C.J. Beathard at times looked like a tackling dummy against the Chargers this past Sunday.
Time after time, Chargers defenders were knocking him to the ground. Though he performed valiantly in his first start as a replacement for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, Beathard looks vulnerable with a dozen more games left on the 2018 schedule. Opponents will be coming after him early and often in every game.
So what happens if Beathard gets knocked out this Sunday against the Cardinals – or in a game later this season?
Nick Mullens happens.
The undrafted free agent from Southern Mississippi in 2017 was elevated from the practice squad last week and is now one injury away from being the 49ers starting QB. The 49ers would like to bring in another quarterback as insurance – one with more experience – but with so many injuries across the roster right now, head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have a lot of moving pieces to juggle, so for the time being Mullens will be Beathard’s only backup.
“We’ve got a bunch of situations we’re looking into,” Shanahan told reporters Monday, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Right now I would love to answer the quarterback situation for everyone because you do want a third in your building, whether that’s practice squad or on the roster. But there’s a lot of things that are taking precedent right now. … There’s a lot of stuff up in the air, where I really can’t answer that right now. We’ll see what happens.”
Mullens, a 6-foot-1, 210-pounder, played in all four exhibition games this summer for San Francisco. He completed 31-of-43 throws for 396 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions and was sacked three times. His best game came against the Cowboys, when he was 11-of-13 for 141 yards, one TD and one interception with a quarterback rating of 105.4.
Mullens was a four-year starter at Southern Mississippi, where he completed 60 percent of his passes for 11,994 yards, 87 TDs and 46 interceptions.
Shanahan and Lynch held a tryout for quarterbacks last Tuesday, but declined to sign any of them. Shanahan said for now he believes in Mullens as his No. 2. Eventually, he may bring in one of the veterans from the tryout.
All the QBs who came to the tryout had been seen by Shanahan on tape, so he knows what they offer.
“You bring guys in just to see where they’re at to make sure they haven’t just been sitting on the couch for the last couple of months,” he told the media. “They’ve still been working out. They can still function. Then, you mainly go off of what you saw on tape.”
The 49ers, now 1-3, will play host to the 0-4 Arizona Cardinals Sunday. Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m.