SANTA CLARA – Unlike a year ago, there is competition inside the 49ers’ quarterbacks meeting room.
Jimmy Garoppolo’s spot is set as the starter, but Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard are competing for the backup job. Wilton Speight joined the three returners when he signed as an undrafted rookie from UCLA.
“It’s a good group,” Garoppolo said. “We all help each other out, especially in-between reps. You come to the sideline and coach might be busy looking at whoever’s in there, and you can talk to each other about it, just what they saw and if you mess something up, how you can fix it, things like that.”
Mullens finished last season on an impressive eight-game run. He completed 64.2 percent of his pass attempts with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a passer rating of 90.9.
His 2,277 yards passing are the fourth most in NFL history for a quarterback in his first eight starts, ranking behind only Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton.
As well as Mullens played, his spot is not assured this year.
The 49ers still have a high opinion of C.J. Beathard, a third-round pick in 2017 who took over after Garoppolo’s injury last season. Beathard entered both of his first two seasons in the NFL as the team's unquestioned No. 2.
Beathard completed 60.4 percent of his passes last season with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions and an 81.8 passer rating. Beathard started five games – all 49ers losses – and his confidence appeared to take a beating as he absorbed one hit after and other and was sacked 18 times in 187 dropbacks.
On a short week, coach Kyle Shanahan went with Mullens against the Raiders in Week 9. Mullens had a near-perfect game and never gave Shanahan a reason to make a change back to Beathard.
Mullens and Beathard are expected to split the 11-on-11 practice snaps during the offseason program while Garoppolo is relegated to just 7-on-7 drills. The competition for the backup role will intensify in training camp.
“It’s a good group of guys and a very competitive group of guys, which makes us all better,” Garoppolo said.