Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Mullens says 49ers TE George Kittle was ‘open every play’ vs. Broncos

Dec 9, 2018 at 7:24 PM--

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens spoke to reporters on Sunday after the team's 20-14 upset victory over the Denver Broncos. Here is everything he had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

What happened on the third-down completion to WR Dante Pettis that went for a long gain?

"Yeah, it's actually a play we had ran a couple times before – if you remember the slant to [FB Kyle Juszczyk] Juice earlier in the game. We got the quick now, then the nod behind it and I saw they collapsed down on the now. Just saw him open. Tried to get rid of it, and tried to throw him a catchable ball before the defenders got to me. I didn't see it. I still haven't seen it on film, so I'm excited to go back and watch it. But, I'm really proud of the way we finished. Just really excited we finished."

What gave you confidence in making that throw to him after he dropped a third-down pass a little bit earlier?

"My confidence isn't going to waver in Dante, ever. He stepped up big-time in the past couple weeks. Those moments of truth, people got to step up. I'm pumped up, just so excited that we redeemed ourself – a handful of guys. We redeemed ourself, we finished the game and that's something that we've struggled on in the past. We finished the game today and I'm really excited about that."

Talking about finishing the game, you guys got blown out the last two weeks. Do you feel the way you played in this particular game, going against a team that was in the playoff hunt, do you feel this was a statement game for you guys at all?

"Sure. Yeah, why not? We take it every week one game at a time, one week at a time. We are excited, I guess you could say, to take them out of the playoff hunt. I believe they were in it. They were on a pretty hot streak. But, it was great to get a team win. Defense did a great job. A number of stops that were very crucial in the point of the game. Offense, everybody just worked together. Special teams, everybody did their part. Everybody worked really hard and that's why it feels so good to win."

What were you feeling throughout that first half, every time you threw a ball towards TE George Kittle?

"He was open every play, man. It was crazy. Shoot, all the receivers were. That's why I give the coaches so much credit. The guys were wide open. So, that's fun, man. The O-Line played great. They were protecting their butts off and we really just had a rhythm. I've said it in the past, when we really just focus on ourselves, our assignments and everybody works as a collective unit, we're a pretty good offense, and that showed in the first half. Second half, got off our rhythm, I guess you could say. But, we finished. It was a solid first half."

On that 85-yard touchdown, did you see it unfold, like you knew pretty early? It looked like WR Marquise Goodwin was on the side and he knew immediately that Kittle had a straight path.

"Yeah, it was awesome. We had a clear-out on the high cross, and George flashed in my eyes when I came off the play-action fake. George, like I've said so many times, he's sneaky athletic. Caught it and ran. Used his speed that we all know he has, and it's a touchdown for everybody. George had one heck of a day. Four yards short of the record, I've been told. You can blame that on me, I guess. It would've been really cool to get him that record. But, yeah, George balled out and it was a great play."

Were you aware of the record during the game?

"I think late. Probably when we were taking knees and stuff like that. So, I thought about throwing him a pass there. No, I'm kidding."

Was he not open? Were you guys not calling his number?

"I think it's just kind of the rhythm of the game. It was really just by coincidence that he had a lot of big plays in the first half. Every game has a different rhythm to it, a different flow. That's just kind of how the game played out."

You're fighting for a job, basically for next year. Obviously, in the middle of the game you're not thinking about that. But, do you think about that, that you're fighting for a job next year?

"I've been fighting for a job since the day I got here. My mindset doesn't change. Really, just try to work hard in whatever my role is for the team. I feel like that's how I'm going to help the team. Whatever my role is, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability. I'm lucky and honored to do that."

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan said you might have snapped the ball a little bit early in the final victory formation.

"Yeah, we don't really have to talk about that. I'll go back and watch it, see how the time played out or whatever. But, I'm pretty mad at myself, yeah."

I bet you'll never do it again.

"I shouldn't have done it in the first place. Are you kidding me?"

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