Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Only one QB has more passing yards through first 16 starts than 49ers’ Nick Mullens

Dec 20, 2020 at 1:34 PM--

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 5,100 yards through his first 16 NFL starts. That is an NFL record — by a significant margin. The next closest quarterback was Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts, who threw for 4,374 yards in his first 16 starts.

That changed on Sunday.

Jumping ahead of Luck on the list is probably an unexpected name — San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Nick Mullens, who now has 4,405 passing yards through his first 16 NFL starts. He entered Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys needing 188 passing yards to match Luck and surpassed that mark in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard pass to wide receiver Brandon AIyuk.

The name is unexpected because Mullens has never been the team's QB1. Instead, he has started 16 games out of necessity after injuries sidelined quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in 2018 and this season.

Mullens has also had up and down performances in his starts, occasionally playing at a solid level and at many other times showing why he is a backup. He has thrown nearly as many interceptions as touchdowns over his career. Despite his struggles, being second all-time when it comes to passing yards through a quarterback's first 16 starts is an impressive accomplishment.

Mullens probably won't receive much praise for the achievement, though. He finished the game 21-of-36 for 219 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions, and a lost fumble. C.J. Beathard replaced Mullens in the final moments, which included a Hail Mary pass hauled in by wide receiver Kendrick Bourne in the end zone as the game clock hit zero.

The Cowboys beat the 49ers 41-33.

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