49ers

Young wants to see how risky Shanahan gets with Mullens

49ers

With Jimmy Garoppolo ailing from a high ankle sprain, Nick Mullens is in line to start his first game for the 49ers since Dec. 30, 2018, when the 49ers face the New York Giants this Sunday. 

The big question is, how will coach Kyle Shanahan use his newest quarterback? Steve Young is wondering the same thing.

"It'll be interesting to see if Kyle takes some calculated chances with Nick," Young said Wednesday on KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks" show. "Nick to me is somebody you could ask more of. Of all the substitutes we have, he's the one I wouldn't mind putting a little bit more on. And not necessarily throwing it 40 times, but in certain situations, certain plays, being able to say 'Nick, I want to take a shot. And I want you to handle it.' "

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Mullens started eight games in the 2018 season when Garoppolo tore his ACL and C.J. Beathard couldn't get the job done. The former undrafted QB passed for 2,277 yards and 13 touchdowns with 10 interceptions, while completing 64.2 percent of his attempts. He averaged 8.3 yards gained per pass attempt. 

By comparison, Garoppolo averaged 8.4 yards gained per pass attempt last season and was averaging 8.0 this year. 

So, will Shanahan shrink his offense or let Mullens be creative and let it fly? Young hopes the coach doesn't dumb it down too much.

 
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"I kind of feel like Kyle might be able to really press into Nick being out there and handling more," Young said. "And I think we can use that. We could use that as a positive. Rather than shrinking, we need to stay expansive and maybe Nick can give us a chance to show that, because that would be nice.

"If somehow we could be more explosive all of the sudden, that would be a positive."

Mullens didn't throw a single pass last season, but he now has been in Shanahan's complex system for three years. He should have a better grasp of the offense. Now, he must prove it in Week 3.