"No. That scenario doesn't exist."
These are the words 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan immediately uttered Wednesday at his press conference when asked if Nick Mullens could supplant Jimmy Garoppolo as the starting quarterback.
Against the Giants and Jets, Mullens performed admirably. He showed just how far his development has come since he last started a game in 2018 against the Rams. Because of how he has performed in the last game and a half, the 49ers can feel at ease resting Garoppolo longer as he mends a high-ankle sprain.
But of course, if Mullens were to continue to perform at the level he is at now and beyond, then "quarterback controversy" is always going to be in the back pocket of narrative-driven fans and pundits.
"This is Jimmy's team," Shanahan said. "He's done a hell of a job for us, so when he's healthy he'll be playing again for us."
Shanahan does not mince words on this.
The San Francisco 49ers are Garoppolo's team to lead as the starting quarterback. And really, it is the only way to go regardless of how Mullens performs. Mullens could break records in the next game and the 49ers should still maintain that Garoppolo is the starter.
It is not just because Garoppolo is better than Mullens, but you have to consider that the 49ers do not like to waste money. Having Garoppolo hold a clipboard on the sidelines while making $23.8 million in base salary is not justifiable. If Shanahan were to name Mullens as the starter going forward, there is really no going back to Garoppolo.
At least, that isn't going to make a positive impact playing musical chairs at quarterback.
Just imagine what the players in that locker room will think if they see Shanahan name Mullens as the indefinite starter because Garoppolo got injured. That isn't really sending the right message.
What is the more sensible way of playing this is obviously giving Garoppolo the starting reigns back and should he be a direct cause as to why the 49ers are losing some games, then Mullens can easily step in. That is more justifiable in terms of financial sense and would sit better with the rest of the team.
This is really the only way a quarterback controversy will ever spawn on the 49ers.
Until that happens, which I wouldn't hold my breathe, Garoppolo is the starting quarterback of the 49ers. There is a reason Shanahan did not outright rule him out against the Giants until two days prior. He knows Garoppolo gives the 49ers the best chance of winning. And while Mullens did prove himself capable, Garoppolo is THE guy for this football team.