Nick Mullens frustrated 49ers couldn't cash in on late chances vs. Bears


Nick Mullens frustrated 49ers couldn't cash in on late chances vs. Bears

SANTA CLARA -- When quarterback Nick Mullens saw the 49ers’ game plan during the week, he felt confident the formula was in place to upset the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

And after the 49ers’ 14-9 loss at Levi’s Stadium, Mullen said most everything played out just as he had expected. Everything, that is, except the 49ers' failure to make plays in the clutch.

“We knew they were a good defense,” Mullens said. “But I feel like if we just stayed balanced, went out and executed and did our jobs, we felt like we had a great chance in this ballgame.

“It ended up being the exact type of game we thought. We knew it was going to be a dogfight. We knew it was going to be tough. But we knew we’d also have opportunities. So it was exactly what we wanted. We just didn’t take advantage and finish.”

The 49ers advanced inside the Chicago 20 on three consecutive drives in the second quarter. Each time, the 49ers came out of it with a Robbie Gould field goal. Gould improved on his field-goal accuracy, which ranks No. 2 in NFL history. But that is not what interested the 49ers on this day.

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Mullens saw opportunities slip away that could have enabled the 49ers to pull off their third victory in a row. Instead, the 49ers fell to 4-11, and Mullens was left disappointed, thinking about the team’s failed chances.

Mullens was especially disappointed in two fourth-quarter plays that proved pivotal.

The 49ers had a first-and-10 at the Bears’ 20, when he led Marquise Goodwin too much on a crossing route. Goodwin got both hands on the ball, but it deflected to Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan for the interception.

“I feel like it’s just a stupid turnover,” Mullens said. “It’s not ‘Quise’s fault. I didn’t feel like it was my fault. The way the ball tipped, it went into the guy’s hands.

"It’s a frustrating turnover. It’s definitely a preventable one. Just can’t let those things happen.”

Then, Mullens could have easily picked up the first down on a fourth-and-4 play that originated at the Chicago 45 with 1:14 remaining. But instead of running for the yardage and getting out of bounds, Mullens threw deep out of bounds to end the 49ers' hopes.

Still, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan saw the positives in Mullens’ performance after he completed 22 of 38 passes for 241 yards and no touchdowns with the one interception. Mullens was not sacked.

“Going against that defense is a very big challenge, and it’s as good of a pass rush as I’ve seen and that tied with the sound coverages and scheme,” Shanahan said. “That’s a challenge. He did a good job today, especially throwing it 38 times, protecting the ball fairly well.

“I know we’d like to have that one (interception) back, but it definitely wasn’t a bad decision. Just a hair off ‘Quise’s hand. He hung in there. Everyone misses a couple, but he also made a couple that weren’t there. I thought Nick, under the circumstances, played very well.”

CA Governor Gavin Newsom 'doesn't anticipate' normal NFL games in fall

CA Governor Gavin Newsom 'doesn't anticipate' normal NFL games in fall

President Donald Trump reportedly told sports commissioners and top executives Saturday that he believes the NFL should start on time with fans returning to stadiums by August despite the coronavirus outbreak.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom doesn't share the same thoughts.

The governor was asked about Trump's reported prediction, and said he doesn't envision California having made enough progress against the virus for it to be business as usual for the NFL come fall.

“I’m not anticipating that happening in this state,” Newsom said Saturday. “We’ve all seen the headlines over the last couple days in Asia, where they opening up certain businesses, and now they’re starting to roll back those openings because they’re starting seeing some spread and there’s a boomerang. One has to be very cautious here, one has to be careful not to overpromise.

"It's interesting, I have a lot of friends that work in Major League Baseball and the NFL, they've been asking me -- in fact, a well-known athlete -- a football player -- just asked me if he expects to come back. I said, 'I would move very cautiously in that expectation.' "

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Newsom is making sure to prioritize safety and caution above all else before letting sports return.

“Our decision on that basis here in the State of California will be determined by the facts, will be determined by the health experts, will be determined by our ability to meet this moment and bend the curve, and have the appropriate community surveillance and testing to confidently determine whether that's appropriate," Newsom said. "Right now, I’m just focusing on the immediate, but that’s not something I anticipate happening in the next few months.”

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The truth of the matter is that no one knows how long this will last or when sports will be able to return to packed stadiums. The NFL is planning on starting the schedule on time with fans in the stadium, but that might not be the case in California. With many epidemiologists expecting the virus to surge again the fall, the fate of the NFL's season is very much up in the air.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as well as a lead member of the White House's coronavirus taskforce, told Warriors star Steph Curry that sports can only safely return once the country as a whole has turned the corner from the outbreak and the medical system no longer is under strain.

As of Saturday, there were more than 270,000 cases of coronavirus in the United States and more than 7,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and NBC News reporting.

Watch DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Clelin Ferrell in joint workout

Watch DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Clelin Ferrell in joint workout

While the NFL offseason programs are postponed, many players are still working out to be ready for the time when the teams are able to get back to work in an organized setting.

In Miami, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Clelin Ferrell are working out with private defensive line coach Mark Hall.

Hall, who recently was a guest on the 49ers Insider Podcast, sent a video to NBC Sports Bay Area of the three players working out.

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The 49ers recently traded Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 13 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and re-signed Armstead to a four-year, $84 million contract. Ferrell will enter his second season with the Las Vegas Raiders after being the club’s first-round selection at No. 4 overall in the 2019 draft.