Checkmate

Crystal Scuor

The 49ers backup squad is better than half the teams in the NFL.

There, I said it.

I’ll go even further to say that Nick Mullens—Mr. Big Nick Energy (BNE) himself—looked like a young Joe Montana. In fact, he tied Montana’s franchise record streak set back in December 9th, 1985 through December 7th, 1986. After the big win on Sunday, BNE has now thrown for 220+ yards in each of his nine career starts with the 49ers.

If you’re reading this and rolling your eyes, get used to it. BNE borrowed the Spidey suit from Jimmy Garoppolo and while he didn’t necessarily carry the team—or throw for 3 touchdowns like I had hoped—he showed the league and all its combatants that preseason or not, he’s ready to play the game.

The world caught a glimpse of this version of Mullens:

Hearing, “This isn’t preseason and that’s how we play the game!” still gives me chills.

Of course, Mullens’ incredible post-game speech came after the 49ers dominant 34-3 win over the Oakland Raiders on November 1st, 2018. That night, Nicky boy traded in his OshGosh overalls for a shiny new pair of Levi’s jeans.

That powerful quote takes me back to Port Moody, BC. I remember watching Mullens on that field and pointing out to my boyfriend, “He’s wearing his wedding ring! I wonder if that will affect his passing?” Clearly, it didn’t.

I’ll never forget that win. Despite being only 2-7 on the season, I felt alive again as a fan.

We caught our first glimpse of BNE during that game. Mullens threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Prior to his start on Sunday against the Giants, Nick Mullens hadn’t walked out onto the field as the starting quarterback for the 49ers in 638 days.

And hell, if that’s what rusty looks like, I’ll flippin’ take it.

Nick the Rapper—hereby known as Nick the Passer—threw for 343 yards and a touchdown with zero interceptions. He finished the night with a 108.9 QB rating.

Dude hasn’t started since 2018 and he rips it better than most of the starting quarterbacks who currently play in the NFL.

Including:

· Jets Sam Darnold…no comment.

· The Washington Football Team’s Dwayne Haskins, who had two touchdowns and THREE interceptions. Ouch.

· Philly’s Carson Wentz, who played more like Carson Wontz. Sorry, not sorry.

· Giants Daniel Jones was nearly as bad as Darnold. His passer rating was less than half of Mullens at 56.6.

· Falcons Matt Ryan was even keel with one TD and an INT.

· Broncos Jeff Driskel had me saying, “Who the heck is that guy?”

· Bears Mitch Trubisky was benched for Nick Foles, who also had a worse game than Mullens. That’s called a Double Whammy.

For the sake of my fingers, Mullens outshined Ryan Tannehill, Justin Herbert, Kirk Cousins, Gardner Minshew, and some other quarterbacks who are supposed to be better than both Jimmy G and BNE combined.

Mullens earned the “Jean Jacket” award for staying composed, confident, and cool. Like, Nick Cool-cool. He walked onto that fake field and brought the same energy we saw in the locker room after he slayed the Raiders. So yes, he earned his denim. Right, Grant?

Aside from a few sketchy moments early on, Mullens played a near perfect game. The puppet master, Kyle Shanahan, worked some magic with a disheveled offense. And the 49ers played better than anyone—including a lot of the Faithful—had expected. Enter #ThePretenders…yet again.

Aside from Mullens’ stellar performance, it was the Jeff and Jet Show. Both players loaded up the rocket and lit that treacherous turf on fire. Seriously. That rocket was gone. She’s halfway to the moon by now and she’s fueled up with some leftover BNE, no doubt.

Jeff Wilson Jr. played like a Sr. I wish I drafted him in my fantasy league.

I even tweeted “we have the better Wilson.” Just please don’t look up Mr. Unlimited’s stats. Dude can ball out…I’m choked.

Not going to lie, the turf pissed me off again. It’s like they were running on Silly Putty. Manny Fresh—aka Emmanuel Moseley—went out. Then Jordan Reed! How can the game claim even more 49ers?

Pair that with a dark cloud over snapper Kyle Nelson. He looked like Eeyore out there, sad and alone while walking home in the rain without an umbrella. I hope he wasn’t dealing with a family emergency or anything crazy because honestly, I just kept thinking he really needed a joint.

It’s legal in Canada, calm down.

All jokes aside, Nelson snapped at the snapping position. Pretty sure Donald Trump was waiting in the locker room to yell, “You’re fired!” even. Wouldn’t it be great if Trump were a mere TV personality, yelling silly catch phrases on Wednesday nights, just like the good old days?

Back when most of us still thought, this guy is a clown.

Politics aside, the 49ers aren’t going to just sit down this season. It’s evident this team doesn’t just say “Next man up.” They probably have it tattooed on the back of their upper, upper thigh.

On to more important business, though: I have a special message for Kyle Shanahan: Please, for the love of football, give Spider-Man Jimmy one more week to heal. He needs some R&R. Maybe a little mani-pedi, or a hot stone massage. Heck, I’ll even caress his ankles back to life, even though I really dislike being near the human foot.

Let him refresh those mentals and get that chicken, as Beast Mode would say. And that dude knows what’s up when it comes to mentals.

Look, here it is: Garoppolo ain’t elite. Not yet, at least. The baby GOAT is still working out the kinks. He needs a real girl to help heal the super scars of what could have been.

And I’m sorry, but a porn star can’t fix that kind of pain.

Garoppolo watched Mullens from the sidelines. He lifted his Spider-man wrist band and participated in the game, to an extent. But BNE pulled up his jock strap and winked in the face of fear. There was no building up his confidence. He just got in there, threw the ball and adjusted. If Mullens was nervous out on that field, he did not show it.

There was no Super Bowl hangover hiding in the bags under his eyes.

Mullens just popped up and showed out. Confidence when it counts. We knew he possessed it; he’s shown his true colours in the past. The Big Nick Energy in that locker room that hyped all of us up—despite our team being down in the absolute slums. He breathed some air into our lungs. And we took ourselves off life support because even without Jimmy, man, we were—and are—thriving.

It must suck to have a starting QB worse than our backup.

The 49ers don’t quite have an elite quarterback in this moment. However, between Jimmy G and BNE, we have two quarterbacks who outplay more than half the QBs in this league.

I mean, the team rejected trade offers for Mullens this past off-season for a reason.

Example A: yesterday’s game.

Nick clearly hasn’t been through a bad breakup. He’s happily married at 25 years young—and I can’t even get a ring pop, might I add. Nick doesn’t sleep with pornstars. There’s too much drama in that.

Let me break it down. Jimmy can be elite. Only problem is, he’s replaying the movie Mean Girls in his own mind.

Regina George is always writing his name in the Burn Book because he never asked her to prom. Or couldn’t fully commit and introduce her to his cute Italian mom. That’s the dream, right?

Okay, so Nick is the little brother. Big bro James is sitting on the sidelines, nursing a high ankle sprain, and little bro has the chance to shine. And oh boy, does he shine. Maybe this makes his big brother feel some type of way—a wee bit threatened.

But that’s okay. That sparks a much-needed fire within big bro James. And if I’ve learned anything about older siblings, one-upping each other is just part of the schtick.

Nick stepped up because he was needed, not because Jimmy wasn’t. Some of y’all say to start Mullens instead of Garoppolo. Alright, cool. We have two quarterbacks who are comfortable being out there.

However, I promise big bro will fight for the top spot, because if you’ve ever had an older sibling, they don’t like to lose out on the cake—even when it’s not even their birthday!

It looks as though we have two kings in our hand while most of the NFL is still searching for their queen. I’m looking at you, New York—no need to specify which team because…well, you get the point.

If most of you didn’t believe in the 49ers before Sunday’s game, then by now you realize that our backup team made Daniel Jones look like a kindergartener on the first day of school, wondering why his mommy left him with a bunch of strangers. Doubters will say, “They only won because the Giants suck!” And that’s not a lie. But let me remind you, nearly every single one of the 49ers starters were sitting on the bench, standing with a Spidey wristband, or getting massaged by their girlfriend at home—Solly is one lucky guy.

Not only do the 49ers have a team who could go back to the Super Bowl, they have a backup squad that could carve the path, too.

If you don’t follow the 49ers right now, you wish you did. Or you’ll somehow jump on the wagon. And hey, that’s okay, too. I’d rather have a wagon full of fans than a fandom full of wankers. You know who you are.

Don’t sleep on these Niners. Don’t disregard the backups. And don’t you dare tell me Mullens should start over Garoppolo because any given week, we have two starting QBs.

And most of y’all step on the field with a Baker Mayfield.

Let that sink in.

There’s something I’ve learned about Shanahan and this team: they live in a roofless house. There’s no ceiling at all. We blew the roof off last year when we were too busy going undefeated.

Just like Patrick Willis told me one day in his trailer: The moment he was drafted, he didn’t revel in the feat. He paused—truly looked inside himself—and said “now what?”

The same can be said about the 49ers—the backups and the misfits, the broken bones and bandages. The Pretenders. Doubt is a powerful type of fuel. Most engines don’t recognize doubt inside of them. Like a diesel truck filled with regular gas, that crap doesn’t register.

A machine that runs on doubt is one that will never quit, because the prize is so much more than a Super Bowl championship.

It’s the underdogs moving the pawn and yelling, “CHECKMATE!” on basically half the quarterbacks in the NFL.

And luckily for the 49ers, they now have two kings. 

THANKS FOR READING GIANTS COUNTRY
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