SANTA CLARA, Calif. — San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens could not have had a better NFL debut.
Mullens’ 151.9 passer rating is the best in an NFL debut since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.
It started on the opening drive. Raiders safety Reggie Nelson bit on a play action that left Pierre Garçon wide open in the secondary for a 24-yard touchdown pass.
Mullens would finish with 16 for 22 passing for 262 yards and three touchdowns — leading San Francisco to a 34-3 victory over the Raiders.
He was a game-time decision to start Thursday night for San Francisco, but his historic debut wasn’t a surprise for 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.
“He didn’t surprise us in terms of, the game’s not too big for Nick,” Shanahan said after the game. “He’s very poised. He is always locked in. The guys, they respect him. He earned a lot of respect in the preseason, them watching him play. Both years, last year and this year.
“The way he handles himself in practice each week. He didn’t really know for sure whether he was going to start today, until today, and just the way he handled the two days of long walk-throughs and stuff. He’s a machine in there and I was happy for him.”
The 49ers decided Thursday that C.J. Beathard would not be starting as he continued to recover from a wrist injury that he suffered in four days ago at the Arizona Cardinals.
San Francisco signed Mullens to the practice squad as an undrafted free agent out of Southern Mississippi last season. The team promoted him to the active roster following Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury earlier this season.
Though the path to Mullens’ debut was unusual, he remained prepared for the moment.
“The feeling, obviously, knowing that you’re going to start puts some more emphasis on it I guess you guys could say,” Mullens said. “But, you know, my preparation stayed pretty consistent. Studied the plan. Always going to be ready when my name is called, and it was called.
”I just tried to do the best that I could. The team did the best that we could. We played great, sound football all three phases of the game.”
Coach Shanahan is considering starting Mullens in the team’s next game against the New York Giants on Monday Night Football.
Mullens had much to celebrate Thursday evening: a victory in the final Battle of the Bay, a phone call from fellow Southern Miss alum Brett Favre, and his Twitter account was verified midway through the game.
.@NickMullens' first career start:
– First player in 49ers history to throw 3 pass TDs in his first game with the team
– Verified on Twitter mid-game pic.twitter.com/Aihhk7I8AA
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) November 2, 2018
The Twitter verification was not his top priority.
“I think somebody told me right after the game,” Mullens said. “I was really excited about a lot more things than that.”
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