Niners May Have to Start QB Nick Mullens vs. Raiders

Beathard's status for Thursday's game against Raiders is uncertain because of injury to right wrist, so Mullens may get his first NFL start

C.J. Beathard has a sprained right wrist, courtesy of a run-in his arm had with a helmet Sunday in the loss to the Cardinals. He injured the wrist in the second quarter, but was able to stay in the game.

Now, however, his status for Thursday night’s game against the Oakland Raiders is in doubt. He hasn’t been able to practice and just gripping a football is difficult.

“C.J. would be good if we were playing on Sunday,” head coach Kyle Shanahan told the media Tuesday. “But it’s going to be a test for Thursday, and we probably won’t know until then.”

So, it may be Nick Mullens’ time.

Mullens, an undrafted free agent from Southern Mississippi signed in 2017, will start if Beathard is unable to go. Though he’s never taken a snap in an NFL regular-season game, Mullens, who spent most of 2017 on the San Francisco practice squad, would start over veteran Tom Savage, the ex-Texans quarterback recently signed as a free agent for depth at the position.

The 1-7 49ers, who lost No. 1 QB Jimmy Garoppolo earlier this season, believe Mullens is more familiar with the 49ers system and better positioned to run the offense than Savage.

Mullens was a four-year starter at Southern Mississippi and threw for 87 touchdowns and 11,994 yards. This summer Mullens received plenty of playing time in the exhibition season, completing 31-of-43 passes for 396 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions.

Shanahan says Mullens is “as ready as you can be” to play Thursday if needed.

“Nick works his tail off, whether he was on practice squad all last year, some of this year, since he’s been the (number) two (QB),” he said. “Nick’s a very smart guy who works at it nonstop. He’ll be able to go in there and execute the offense and knows what he’s doing.”

The 49ers-Raiders game Thursday is set for a 5:20 p.m. kickoff at Levi’s Stadium.

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