Nick Mullens will likely report to the San Francisco 49ers in April as the favorite to win the backup quarterback job. Presumed starter Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a torn ACL in September and will not begin throwing in practices until late May or early June when the team kicks off organized team activities.

For Mullens, the time before that will be crucial to proving he, not former third-round draft pick C.J. Beathard, should be Garoppolo's backup. Of course, nothing will be handed to him, which Mullens is used to.

"No matter what the situation is, I'm competing every day," Mullens told reporters on December 31. "Every day you're in the NFL, you're competing and so my mindset doesn't change. Just do what I'm supposed to do, and do more than what's required, and let the chips fall where they may."

Mullens started the 49ers' final eight games of the season after an injury sidelined Beathard. He took advantage of the opportunity and never surrendered the starting job after taking it over.

While Mullens had only three wins in his eight starts, his play was impressive considering San Francisco signed him in 2017 as an undrafted free agent. Mullens passed for 2,277 yards with 13 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and a passer rating of 90.8. And he did so while showing poise and command of the offense.

"I think I can just get a lot better, to be honest," Mullens continued. "I'm really proud that I got the opportunity. I'm pretty proud of the stuff that I put on tape, but I know where I can improve, and I know I can get better. That's the most exciting part about going into the offseason."

Mullens finally has some NFL game film of himself to review this offseason after spending most of his time in San Francisco on the practice squad. That either meant mimicking an opposing quarterback for the defense to practice against or playing a different position entirely.

Fun fact: Mullens often found himself playing safety and general manager John Lynch, an accomplished former player at the position, would tease the young quarterback about his backpedaling technique.

Back to the game film, Mullens plans to utilize it for the first time during an offseason to further improve.

"That will be fun," Mullens said. "Last year, I was watching film on different guys. So now, I can evaluate myself. That will be a unique aspect of the offseason. But there's always more to learn. There's always more to nail down and just pay attention to all the little details. Just always more to learn, so that's what I'm excited for going into the offseason."

If all goes as planned, Mullens won't step foot on the football field in 2019 unless the 49ers are winning a game by a significant margin. A lot will be riding on Garoppolo staying healthy for 16 games (or more). This is, however, the NFL, so you never know what might happen, and Mullens plans to be ready if his number is called again.

Mullens is grateful for the opportunity his coaches gave him this past season and the trust they displayed in the Southern Miss product.

"I had a blast," Mullens said. "I really did. The record might not be what we wanted but getting out there, playing ball, competing, that's why I do the job that I do. We love to compete. We love to play ball. It was a lot of fun but definitely would like to get the win column a lot higher than it is."

As for his competition, Beathard, don't expect a nasty offseason battle between the two. The quarterbacks, who entered the NFL during the same offseason, are close and support each other any way they can both on game days and in the meeting room.

"We have a great relationship," Mullens said of Beathard. "We've known each other for a couple of years now. Our wives and girlfriends are friends. We help each other, talk about the way the game plays out, talk about a lot of different things.

"We're really good friends, great teammates, and we make each other better. It's a great relationship, for sure. C.J. is awesome."