Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


Bears defense a litmus test for Nick Mullens

Dec 23, 2018 at 9:37 AM


Of everything that has been salvaged from the San Francisco 49ers' 2018 season, the emergence of Nick Mullens is the most unexpected and the most valuable.

Since being pressed into service by injuries to Jimmy Garoppolo and C.J. Beathard, Mullens has surpassed all expectations and heads into the Niners' Week 16 tilt with the Chicago Bears with a 3-3 record having helped orchestrate a late-season surge that has seen them claim wins over the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.


Mullens leads the NFL in passing yards since Week 13 and has racked up the fourth-most yards across a quarterback's first six games since the merger. Completing 64.5 percent of his passes, Mullens has also been an efficient quarterback and averages over a yard more per attempt than Beathard has done during his 10 starts, according to David Lombardi of The Athletic.

His numbers are those of a quarterback completely at home in his offensive system, and his development in Kyle Shanahan's scheme has been obvious as he and the Niners have knocked off a pair of playoff-contending teams.

As Ted Nguyen of The Athletic wrote in his recent film comparison of Beathard and Mullens, the former Southern Miss Golden Eagle has done a much better job of diagnosing blitzes, moving in the pocket to negate pressure and throwing with anticipation. He also demonstrated an increased aptitude for throwing downfield with touch.

All of these abilities have enabled Mullens to have success against a Denver defense that was fourth in Football Outsiders DVOA through 15 weeks and a Seattle unit that did an excellent job generating pressure against the interior of San Francisco's offensive line.

However, he will face a different level of challenge against the Bears, who rank first in Football Outsiders overall defense DVOA, pass defense DVOA, run defense DVOA, interceptions and takeaways per drive, per Lombardi. Chicago is also fourth in sacks and second in yards per play allowed.

With the best edge rusher in the game in Khalil Mack, supported ably by Leonard Floyd, supreme amounts of interior talent in the form of Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman, an athletic and instinctive linebacker in Roquan Smith and an emerging star at cornerback in Kyle Fuller, who has seven interceptions on the season, the Bears have a plethora of ways to make life extremely difficult for Mullens.

As he nears the end of what has been a life-changing season for Mullens, he now faces a litmus test that will help determine just how good he is. Through his displays, the Niners know they have a capable backup who can win games against playoff contending teams, how he performs against the Bears may decide whether other teams in the market for a trade view him as a starter.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



Bears sign ex-49ers WR Marquise Goodwin

By David Bonilla
Apr 16, 2021

The Chicago Bears have signed former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, per a report from Adam Schefter of ESPN. Bears signed former 49ers' WR Marquise Goodwin.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 16, 2021 Goodwin spent three seasons with the 49ers, initially joining the team in 2017, before being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles on April 25, 2020. The receiver opted out of the 2020



Neither Lynch nor Shanahan asked Nick Saban about Mac Jones, potential 49ers draft pick, at pro day

By David Bonilla
Apr 6, 2021

File this under interesting pre-draft tidbits. San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan were in attendance for Alabama's pro day last week. That made headlines because the duo opted to watch quarterback Mac Jones rather than attend Ohio State's pro day to watch Justin Fields. Paired with Chris Simms' speculation that San Francisco might have traded up to the No. 3 spot for Jones, that spurred others to seriously consider a Jones-to-49ers scenario. Alabama head coach Nick Saban recently joined the Dan Patrick Show and shared that neither Lynch nor Shanahan asked him anything about his former quarterback, who helped guide the Crimson Tide to a national championship. And it wasn't because they didn't have an opportunity to do



49ers' Nick Bosa shares video showing rehab progress

By David Bonilla
Apr 8, 2021

Nick Bosa was one of several ("several" may be an understatement) San Francisco 49ers who suffered injuries last season. The young pass rusher's injury was season-ending. He suffered a torn ACL in Week 2. Bosa appears to be recovering nicely. On Thursday, he posted a new workout video on social media, which was captured and shared by our friends over at @OurSF49ers_. The video shows Bosa running with a weight sled tied to his waist, and he doesn't appear to be hampered by his left knee injury. Nick Bosa's ACL recovery looks to be going amazing, you love to see it 🙌🏼


Featured

More by Nicholas McGee

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone