Why 49ers QB Nick Mullens is unlikely to be traded during the offseason


Why 49ers QB Nick Mullens is unlikely to be traded during the offseason

What’s better than having a solid quarterback? Having two.

That’s the situation the 49ers have found themselves in after Nick Mullens has impressed in six starts since he took over starting QB job on Nov. 1.

Mullens has thrown 10 touchdowns and six interceptions while leading the 49ers to a respectable 3-3 record, including two consecutive wins. He’s amassed 1,754 passing yards, an average of 8.6 yards per pass attempt, and has a robust QB rating of 96.0.

But with Jimmy Garoppolo expected to make a full recovery from his torn ACL in time to start the 2019 season as QB1, the question about Mullens’ future with the team has already come up.

Could the 49ers trade Mullens for draft picks this offseason, given Jimmy G is entrenched as the starter?

"I mean, you're open to anything possible that improves your team," head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Monday. "That's not just backups. You have an obligation to do whatever you think is right to give your organization the best chance to win.

Mullens himself isn’t worried about any of this speculation, and is just focused on finishing the season strong.

"I love the 49ers,” Mullens told reporters on Wednesday. “I'd be here as long as I could. But that stuff does not matter. I'm just really trying to focus on this game this week, and just really control the things you can control. That's what Coach Shanahan preaches all the time. We walk in the door, we see it all the time. Control what you can control, and let everything take care of itself. So that's how I handle myself."

[RELATED: Mullens confident, prepared for Bears' tough defense]

Although the prospect of getting a decent return in a trade for a backup QB is enticing, 49ers fans should pump the breaks.

Mullens is under contract in 2019 for only $570,000, which is pennies for a quarterback who has proven he can win games at this level.

After 2019, the undrafted QB is an exclusive rights free agent, meaning that San Francisco controls his rights for cheap through the 2021 season.

While some view three cost-controlled years of a solid QB as a valuable trade chip, coach Shanahan implied that the 49ers would be silly to give up this type of asset, given the importance of steady backups.

"I think backups are extremely valuable, not just at the quarterback position, but everywhere,” Shanahan said Monday. “Usually, you have to win with backups, and you hope to stay healthy all of the time, but very rarely does that happen. Backups can be the difference in a season."

Backups have indeed been critical to the 49ers this season, with Mullens, along with running back Matt Breida (replacing the injured Jerrick McKinnon), providing two of the biggest bright spots so far in the 4-10 season.

So you can never say never, but it appears likely the 49ers will play it safe and hold on to their diamond-in-the-rough QB.

How adjusting Fred Warner's workload has unleashed his speed for 49ers

How adjusting Fred Warner's workload has unleashed his speed for 49ers

BRADENTON, Fla. — For the second time in as many months, a member of the 49ers has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Month.

Linebacker Fred Warner took home the title for November after Nick Bosa had the honor for October. During the month, Warner tallied 44 total tackles, three sacks, four tackles for loss, three quarterback hits and two forced fumbles. 

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh believes altering the linebacker’s responsibilities has given Warner an opportunity to play with more speed. 

“We’ve taken a lot off his plate so he can just go line up and play,” Saleh said Thursday. “Putting more of the onus on making sure that guys lineup and go play. We were playing some of those read-option teams, the Arizona teams, we’re asking him to make a lot of checks and see if he can get us in the perfect defense. 

“While he’s busy trying to do that, he’s not able to focus on his job. Even though he was getting everyone lined up and everything was perfect, it’s just not fair for him. So, to take a little bit off his plate so he can go ahead and go play, I think that’s really been the difference.”

Saleh is not alone in praising Warner. Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman also has been impressed with the young linebacker's work ethic and growth in his second season. The fact that Warner didn’t play inside until he was with the 49ers makes his accomplishments even more significant. 

“The inside linebacker already has so much on his plate,” Sherman said. “Being able to take some of that off—there was one game I think he had six calls in one play. Where if this guy moves here, he has to readjust the line. He has to tell the DBs this, he has to tell this guy this and sometimes that just doesn’t allow him to play fast.

“He’s getting everybody else lined up to play fast but he can’t play fast. He has to think about all these calls, all these adjustments. Maybe you put a little more strain on the rest of the guys. You spread out the strain and it allows him to play fast and for us to be a better defense.”

[RELATED: 49ers now have logjam at running back with Breida's return]

Now in his second year, Warner sees things developing on the field more quickly. No matter the workload given to him by Saleh, the BYU product has been able to adjust.  

“I think as the year has gone on, he has kind of started to realize what’s too much, what’s too little,” Warner said. “I agree completely. Ever since kind of the midway point of the season, I think he has lined it up for me to just go out and play fast.”  

49ers' Richard Sherman, Dee Ford speak out on Tim Ryan's comments


49ers' Richard Sherman, Dee Ford speak out on Tim Ryan's comments

BRADENTON , Fla. -- Following radio broadcaster Tim Ryan's one-game suspension for his comments regarding Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, several 49ers players spoke out, believing there was no malicious intent behind what the analyst said. 

Known as being outspoken on most topics, Richard Sherman did not mince words about what Ryan said. He even mentioned that the commentator had personally apologized to several players while at the team hotel after the announcement of his suspension. 

“I know Tim personally, and I listened to the dialogue and saw it, read it,” Sherman said. “Honestly, I wasn’t as outraged as everybody else. I understand how it can be taken in a certain context and be offensive to some. 

“But if you’re saying, ‘Hey, this is a brown ball, they are wearing dark colors, and he has a brown arm,’ honestly sometimes we were having trouble seeing it on film. He’s making a play fake and sometimes he’s swinging his arm really fast and you’re like, does he have the ball? And you look up and [Mark] Ingram is running it.

“So it was technically a valid point but the way he said it, you can always phrase things better. I’ve had a relationship with him since I’ve gotten here and he’s never been anything other than a great guy and a professional and a guy who takes his job seriously.” 

Edge rusher Dee Ford expressed similar sentiments about Ryan’s comments, and confirmed that the two had spoken since the incident. 

“He walked up to me earlier and before he even said anything I told him. ‘I got your back.’” Ford said. “I already knew the story. The words kind of got taken out of context, and of course, now he knows he could have used better judgment with his words. But we got his back. I knew what he was trying to say. 

“This era we live in, it is just what it is, but I know him personally. I speak to him a lot. He loves to watch the D-line and there’s not one -- type of bone -- you know what bone I’m talking about, in his body. So I got his back, so put that to bed really fast.”  

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh also spoke about Ryan’s nature, not believing that there was negative intent behind his comments. 

[RELATED: How Payton, Saints are preparing for imposing 49ers defense]

“I’ve always, as a human being, tried to judge people on how I interact with them,” Saleh said. “And I love the man. He’s a very genuine human being and he knows he made a mistake and he’s just trying to move this on as quickly as possible.” 

Dennis Brown will be on the call with Greg Papa during Ryan’s absence for Sunday’s matchup against the Saints in the Superdome.