Nick Mullens is on track to be the 49ers' starting quarterback Sunday against the New York Giants, as Jimmy Garoppolo recovers from a high ankle sprain he sustained in San Francisco's Week 2 win over the New York Jets.
So, how much different will the 49ers' offense look without their franchise QB? Mike Florio, of NBC Sports' ProFootballTalk, doesn't believe it will be that much of a change.
"I don't know that the offense is going to have a major drop-off from Jimmy Garoppolo, who's been so-so," Florio said this week. "Let's be objective about it -- he's been so-so so far this season. And you go to a guy now who knows the offense even better now than he did when he was thrust into service two years ago."
Mullens started for the 49ers in 2018 after Garoppolo tore his ACL and backup C.J. Beathard couldn't get the job done. The former undrafted QB did a solid job, completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 2,277 yards and 13 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He now has been in coach Kyle Shanahan's system for three years and figures to understand its complexities much better.
Chris Simms, Florio's co-host, gave Garoppolo more credit for his performance against the Jets. In one half, while hobbling on an injured ankle, Garoppolo went 14 of 16 for 131 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in the 49ers' win.
But Simms, who is close with Shanahan, knows how confident the 49ers feel with Mullens.
"Jimmy Garoppolo, I will say this: He played really well on a banged-up leg last week," Simms said. "He did a great job of kind of sucking it up and made a lot of big-time throws to give them the lead going into halftime. So that stinks, because it looked like one of those games where he could build on something. ...
"But nonetheless, you're right. And Nick Mullens, I know just from talking with Kyle over the years about the player and everything like that, he feels about Nick Mullens like he's almost part of the coaching staff. He's that kind of backup quarterback. He knows every little nuance of what everyone's supposed to do. Sometimes, as a quarterback, you might not know what a tackle is supposed to do with some run play, what the call is.
"He's all over those things."
Mullens, who didn't throw a single pass last season, showed some rust in the second half of the 49ers' Week 2 win. He completed 8 of his 11 pass attempts for 71 yards, was intercepted once and failed to score a touchdown.
All in all, Florio and Simms believe Shanahan's system will play a big part in Mullens' success.
"With Shanahan, and with all the great coordinators we see in football, it's about executing the system," Simms said. "They're not reinventing the wheel. You're literally just doing what the coach told you to do all week.
"I think, yes, that's not where they're gonna fall off."