Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Mullens talks move to Arizona, turnovers, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jamar Taylor ahead of 49ers-Bills

Dec 3, 2020 at 2:09 PM--

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens spoke with reporters from Glendale, Arizona on Thursday as the team prepares to host the Buffalo Bills at State Farm Stadium. Here is everything he had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

I'm wondering how it is to make the adjustment to a place where you may be for several weeks. And I know you have a wife and a little one, and I'm just wondering how that is emotionally for you, how you communicate what's going on, when you hope to see them again? And also, were they living, are they living in the Bay Area or were they living somewhere else?

"It's good. Fortunately, it actually worked out perfect where they went home to see some family and do some things back home in Alabama and Mississippi and so they haven't been with me. So, I've kind of been on my own for a couple of weeks now. And we're excited for the adjustment. We're here. We all feel comfortable. [Director, team logistics Steve Risser] Riss and [team logistics manager Michael] Slap and our ops and management team, they've done a great job of providing all the resources. We have everything we need to be successful here and it's time to make this place home."

It looks like this week you'll probably have WR Deebo Samuel, WR Brandon Aiyuk and RB Raheem Mostert all out there with you finally on the field together. What does that do for your expectation, your excitement and looking forward to the Bills?

"Yeah, that's awesome. I mean, I loved working with Brandon. I've loved working with Brandon, you know, since camp. I really think he's a great player. And then just to have everybody back is it makes this team better. We got Deebo back and we got Raheem back. We got [RB] Jeff [Wilson Jr.] back and to see how much better those guys are with the ball in space it makes this team better. And so, the more guys we can get back to make us better as an offense, it's a blessing and a we're pumped and excited and ready to get out to practice today."

Do you feel like this is going to take an emotional toll on some of your teammates? I mean, I'm sure it is. How do you guys deal with that and the, kind of the level of uncertainty? This isn't just another week away where you know where the end date is.

"I mean, the NFL is full of adversity, different challenges week to week in all sorts of things you can imagine the NFL happen. And so, this is just kind of the next thing, the next challenge, the next adversity. And it is. For some guys you have to be strong, you have to focus on what's important. Family's important, but so is our jobs. We do this for a living and we have jobs to do and we all expect to perform at a high level. And so that's what we're focused on and we're excited to face the Bills on Monday."

Are there ways to bond, to socialize, to make this a little bit easier without being close to one another? I'm just wondering about, you know video game tournaments, anything to sort of you know, pass the time and to bond without being literally next to one another?

"During the season, I'm not a huge video game guy, but I know that we have a solid crowd on our team that does like the Xbox and PlayStation. So yeah, I'm sure there's some guys who brought the systems and are definitely going to find a way to pass their time that way. But, we're just focused on being here, playing football and doing our jobs just like regular."

Given the, I mean, the series of events that led up to you getting on a plane yesterday, was it all disorienting? I mean, do you ever say like, what, why am I here in Arizona on a Wednesday or whatever? And if so, did that quickly pass?

"It wasn't too bad. It wasn't too bad. Once we got the news, we're going to Arizona and then you just pack your bags and go. You just roll with it. You know, it's really, it's kind of the mentality of the team, roll with it, do the work, work hard, focus on what matters and that's beating the Bills and we've kind of just been going with it. And so, we're here. Like I said, the ops guys have done an incredible job. We've got our weight room, we've got our training room. We've got our meal room, everything you can imagine. It's we're here now. And so, it's been great and everybody's done a great job."

One room you guys don't have is like a quarterback's room, I'd imagine, because you guys all have to be separate watching film on zoom. So, can you kind of maybe share what that's like, whether you're watching game film on your laptop and maybe head coach Kyle Shanahan can, like, how does that work in this new season of environment and under the strict protocol now?

"Everything is just virtual. So, team meetings are virtual, position meetings are virtual. And so, I mean, obviously they can share the screen. So, you're watching their screen, which is the Bills film. And while you're watching the film, they're talking through it and we're sharing our thoughts. So, it's basically everybody just looking at one screen and just sharing thoughts back and forth and going over the plays that are installed each day. Today is based downs and so that's kind of the game plan for today."

Kyle spoke about turnovers being a little bit of an issue for y'all. What has the focus been or how do you prepare and do a better job at that going forward?

"Yeah, I mean, it's something that you kind of just ingrained in your mind. As a quarterback, it's the most important thing, protect the football. And that's something that you have to work on, but I feel like you also though, the more preparation, keeping two hands on the ball in the pocket and just the harder you work at the small details, I feel like turnovers take care of themselves. And so, that's what I've been focusing on. And all year our ball carriers have done a great job of protecting the ball in traffic. We had a really insane stat. It was a couple hundred touches without a fumble. So, we've been doing a good job overall. I know last game when we coughed a couple up, but that's the biggest thing, just focus on the details, high and tight. For me, crisp, sharp decisions, know where to go with the football and being strong in the pocket. So, it's really just hard work, focus, and working on the fundamentals and turnovers take care of themselves."

You're the starting quarterback for this crucial stretch run, but it's still QB Jimmy Garoppolo's team. So, how do you approach leading right now in Arizona? Are you a vocal leader or do you just lead by example?

"Yeah, that's a good question. You just kind of get the feel of the team. At the end of the day, you be yourself, work as hard as you can and make plays and that's how you gain respect. And then you just keep working hard after that. I mean, my personality always is just going to bring some energy, always have a, be a positive influence and things like that. And we have a great group, you know, guys pick each other up, always encouraging each other and not fighting when it gets tough. And so, I like our group right now, tight knit, strong, and I hope I just bring positive energy to that huddle."

Kyle was saying that he could see a difference in freshness and team speed coming out of the Bye week. He thought that the week of rest did have an impact on that Rams game. Did you see the same thing? Could you kind of feel that in the practices leading up to that and how do you think that will carry forth into the early part of this month?

"Yeah, no, I agree. Our schedules, we had to move, but it's been fairly kind to us with the Bye week and then now playing on Monday so an extra day of rest. So those things definitely help. Anytime you can be the fastest, most fresh team on the field I feel like it's benefited us a lot and so I would agree with that point."

Travel to Arizona side. How has this week been different for you as far as budgeting your time to study a team that you might not be as familiar with as some of the other teams you have faced and what has stood out to you when you dive, you have gotten into what the Buffalo Bills try to do defensively?

"The schedule hasn't been too much different. I feel like if anything, we had an extra day to watch film because of the Monday game and traveling. So that was nice, but now that we're here, the schedule is right on par with our weekly schedule, as far as times and basically everything. It's going to be a normal week for us. And so that's nice, you know, you just stick to your routine. Studying the Bills, they're a good defense, you can tell right off the bat they're aggressive. They're good in man coverage, tight, they do a good job and they've got some good playmakers. They're well coached, they're disciplined and they do a good job of disguise. So, they've done a great job, having a really solid year and we're excited for the challenge."

You overcame a few mistakes on Sunday and found ways to put the offense in a position to put points on the board. I was wondering, is it difficult to kind of forget those bad plays and move on? And what type of coaching are you getting from Kyle or one of the coordinators in between just to ensure you have that next play mentality?

"Yeah, I'm on the sidelines. Mostly I'm dealing with coach [quarterbacks coach] Shane Day our quarterbacks coach and he's such a positive influence on our room and during the game, as far as you know, when you're not scoring touchdowns every drive he keeps us patient. You know, don't press, don't press, stay in the moment. And so, he does a great job of doing that. And that was key on Sunday. Took a little while, didn't finish as many drives with touchdowns as we would've liked to, things like that against a good defense. But that's what you do. You just stay in the moment and just play the next play. That's really all you can do and I thought we did a good job with that on Sunday."

Even before this week, you know, the offseason, everything being virtual and during the season, not being able to hang out with your teammates socially, probably as many friends socially, how isolating has this season been and does that take a mental toll?

"It's not too bad mentally, but it is, I'd say that's kind of one part that I might not enjoy as much about this season is you know, when there's no COVID, you're hanging out with your teammates as much as you can. And that's one of the best parts about this job is just being with your teammates. And so, COVID restrictions and things like that, it does limit our time. You know, just sitting at the table, chatting it up, things like that. We can't do that. And so, that's one thing that I wish that we could have, is more time with teammates."

Closing comments:

"One last thing, I normally don't talk about too many guys, but I just hate that [CB] Jamar Taylor kind of got hurt the way that he did. Just prays and shout out to him. I really only say this because he's more of a silent guy. He did not talk a lot in the locker room, but I kind of just asked him about his journey through when he first got here through camp. Eight years, and he's a guy who's earned everything he's gotten in this league and a guy I've got a lot of respect for. To see him do his job and fill in the way that he did, those are the guys you respect in the locker room. So, I had a lot of respect for Jamar and it was really tough to see him get hurt the way that he did. With the type of guy that he is, I know he's going to battle back as strong as ever. So, I've just got a lot of respect for Jamar and I wanted people to know how much of a veteran and I guess silent leader he was on this team."

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