49ers Week 3 Film Breakdown: Good Nick and Bad Nick Mullens

Grant Cohn

Here are the best and worst plays 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens made Week 3 against the New York Jets.


5:48 First Quarter. Second and 6 and NYG 38.

This is a simple play-action pass to tight end Jordan Reed who's running an in route. But if Mullens follows the structure and timing of the play exactly, he will throw an interception because a safety jumps the route. Mullens calmly pump fakes, waits for Reed to run past the safety and completes the pass for a first down. You'd think Mullens was a 10-year veteran.

4:58 First Quarter. Second and 10 at NYG 27.

Mullens throws a deep pass across the field to Reed while taking a shot from a pass rusher, doesn't get his full body into the throw and still hits Reed in the hands, but he doesn't catch the ball. Still a perfect throw.

4:52 First Quarter. Third and 10 at NYG 27.

Jimmy Garoppolo excels on third down -- it's one area in which he's supposed to be better than Mullens. But here it's third and long, and Mullens fires a first-down pass to Reed between two defenders. Mullens looked like Garoppolo on this play.

2:50 First Quarter. Third and 9 at NYG 14.

Again it's third and long. And again, Mullens knows exactly where he wants to throw, doesn't hesitate in the pocket, and hits Mohamed Sanu for a first down.

1:21 First Quarter. Third and goal at NYG 4.

This play doesn't count because Daniel Brunskill commits a penalty, but Mullens still makes an amazing play. He rolls out to his right and, with a defender in his face, throws a pass while falling backward to a receiver in the end zone and hits him between the numbers. That's a Brett Favre play.

1:13 First Quarter. Third and goal at NYG 14.

Next play after the penalty. Mullens throws from the right hash to Reed who's running deep toward the back-left corner of the end zone, hits him in the hands, but Reed can't get both feet in bounds. Another perfect pass that was incomplete.

0:59 Second Quarter. First and 10 at NYG 32.

The best play of Mullens' career. He goes through a triangle progression on the right side of the field -- one, two, three -- and none of the receivers are open. But he doesn't panic or scramble. He quickly scans to the left side of the field and finds his running back, Jerick McKinnon, open 30 yards downfield, and fires the ball to him without hesitating. When was the last time you saw a 49ers quarterback go through four reads before completing a long pass?

0:18 Second Quarter. First and goal at NYG 16.

This is Mullens at his most confident. He has two defenders in his face but doesn't throw the ball away. He backpedals, gives ground, throws a pass off his back foot and completes it McKinnon. This is the kind of play Garoppolo made routinely before he tore his ACL. Who knew Mullens could improvise so well?

15:00 Fourth Quarter. Second and 9 at NYG 29.

Throws a perfect play-action pass downfield to Brandon Aiyuk with a defender bearing down. Mullens still hits Aiyuk perfectly in stride. Beautiful.


10:34 First Quarter. Second and 19 at NYG 48.

Throws a long sideline pass across the field to Kendrick Bourne and the ball dies. Bourne has to run back three yards to catch it, so he can't gain yards after the catch. This was the main example in the game of Mullens' suspect arm strength. On other plays, he showed lots of zip.

1:27 First Quarter. Second and goal at NYG 4.

A play-action rollout pass near the goal line. Mullens rolls to his right and Aiyuk runs a crossing route in the same direction and is open instantly. But Mullens doesn't see him until a few second into the play, and fires a late pass that's behind Aiyuk which gets broken up. Should have been a touchdown.

7:25 Second Quarter. First and 10 at 49ers 25.

Mullens is in the shotgun and he fakes a handoff which doesn't make the defense bite. He still tries to fit a pass downfield into a tight window and it gets tipped and probably should have gotten picked off. This was the one bad decision Mullens made against the Giants. He played a terrific game, but he has things to improve.

Watch the full breakdown below:

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