Mullens missing wide-open Juice early was sign of bad night


Look no further than the second play of the 49ers' 25-20 loss Sunday to the Philadelphia Eagles as what was a sign of things to come for quarterback Nick Mullens.

On 2nd-and-10 at the 49ers' 12-yard line, Mullens had a wide-open Kyle Juszczyk with nothing but green grass around him. There was no need to lead the 49ers' fullback. It should have been a simple pitch and catch, a quarterback's dream. Instead, it was the start of a nightmare night at Levi's Stadium.

Mullens overthrew Juszczyk and the 49ers punted two plays later. 

"This is a touchdown. This is a touchdown the second play of the game to Juice," NFL Network's Brian Baldinger said during a breakdown of the play on Twitter. "The Eagles completely blow the coverage and Juice is wide open. Speed is going to take both defenders with him and Juice is gonna score. He's gonna go hit his head on the goal post.

"There's just no reason not to make that throw."

Juszczyk stood in dismay, this should have been an 88-yard touchdown. Fans no doubt were just as perplexed. Just how easy should the pass have been? Next Gen Stats had it as an 81.3 percent probability of being completed. 

Coach Kyle Shanahan clearly wasn't happy with the miss after the loss, too. 

"The first one, he just missed the throw," Shanahan said to reporters after the game. "He's got to get it out there. Check it down to Juice beneath him."

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The miss obviously wasn't Mullens' worst of the night. That belonged to a comically bad pick-6 that gave the Eagles a late two-score lead. If Mullens hit Juszczyk early, however, it could have given the QB the exact momentum the 49ers needed. 

Now, they've dropped to 2-2 on the season and the 49ers' quarterback situation remains in flux as they await Jimmy Garoppolo's rehab result while he nurses a high ankle sprain. If Mullens is the man again, he has to be better.

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