Jameis Winston

49ers have No. 1-ranked backup QB situation in NFL with Nick Mullens

49ers have No. 1-ranked backup QB situation in NFL with Nick Mullens

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is done for the season. New Orleans Saints star Drew Brees likely is out for the next two months. Carolina Panthers star Cam Newton is debilitated by a foot injury, and might miss Week 3 or even more.

The New York Jets' starter has mononucleosis, and his backup is out for the year with an ankle injury. Tampa Bay Buccaneers signal-caller Jameis Winston continues to regress, and the Miami Dolphins have scored a grand total of one touchdown over two games.

We're just over two weeks into the NFL regular season, and several teams already have serious QB issues.

The 49ers aren't one of them, however. Jimmy Garoppolo looked much improved in San Francisco's 41-17 beatdown of the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2, in which he threw for 297 yards and tied his career high with three touchdown passes. And behind him, the 49ers have the man The Ringer's Riley McAtee ranked as the best backup in all of football.

That's right, Nick Mullens is the best backup signal-caller in the NFL according to McAtee, who cited Mullens' performance in place of an injured Garoppolo last year to support his claim.

"Mullens’ [adjusted net yards per attempt] of 6.7 was 15th-best in the league among the 33 passers who registered at least 200 attempts," McAtee wrote. "That may not be replicable over a larger sample size or in an offense that isn’t built by Kyle Shanahan, but it was an incredibly promising level of production for the then-rookie. To put that number into perspective, Andrew Luck registered a 5.7 ANY/A in his rookie season.

"Mullens is not the next Luck, of course, but if Garoppolo ever misses time," McAtee continued, "Niners fans should feel confident in their backup."

[RELATED: Why this Jimmy G play from 49ers' win made Shanahan proud]

In closing, McAtee used some colorful language to hammer his point.

"Look at the other 31 names on this list: Outside of teams with rookies on the bench, there is no other squad that can put the same faith in their backup. The Niners are the only team that wouldn’t be f----d."

So, relative to the rest of the NFL, the 49ers appear to be in great shape when it comes to their overall quarterback situation. As for the teams who aren't, well, perhaps San Francisco can assist them from a position of strength.

Nick Bosa thrilled to be healthy, register first sack in 49ers debut

Nick Bosa thrilled to be healthy, register first sack in 49ers debut

TAMPA, Fla. — Nick Bosa's much-anticipated 49ers debut exemplified what the rookie pass rusher is capable of.

The No. 2 pick in the 2019 NFL draft played 39 of the defense’s 70 snaps in the 49ers' 31-17 win over the Bucs, which calculates to 56 percent. During that time, he racked up two solo tackles, one for a loss, and one assist. He also sacked Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston once and hit him three times.

Bosa spent a bit of time off the field during OTAs due to a hamstring injury, and then was sidelined again in training camp with an ankle sprain. One of the biggest victories might have been him simply getting through the entire game healthy after a year away from the game due to injuries. 

“Good, a little sore, just getting back into it,” Bosa said when asked about his health. “It’s a long game and you can’t really simulate it with practice so, definitely sore but I’ll be fine.

“Just getting my ankle back. An ankle sprain is something you kind of have to work through a little bit of pain in the beginning. Pretty happy that I got through the whole game and I started to pick it up at the end and we got the win.” 

There were a few plays that Bosa would like to have back. The most notable instance was when he got into the backfield close enough for what could have been a sack, but hesitated. Winston subsequently slipped through his grasp.

“Yeah, just shooting my gun instead of pitter-pattering my feet like that,” Bosa said. “Because if I shoot my gun, even if I don’t get him, I’ll make him either stumble or make him go a certain way so somebody else can get him. I kind of just broke down too much and let him get away. Go for whatever I see instead of hesitating.” 

Bosa was more pleased with his performance in the second half, as he became adjusted to the speed and style of the NFL and their quarterbacks as the game wore on. 

“It’s just a different type of mindset rushing in the NFL compared to college, especially with Jameis,” Bosa said. “He’s unbelievable at getting away from you. I have a lot to work on and just a mindset change but I learned a lot today and I’m really glad to get a win.

“That just goes with the first game and Jameis. He’s unbelievable. Big dude. You can’t arm tackle him. But we got to him when it counted and that’s what matters.” 

Bosa didn’t get his first NFL sack until the middle of the third quarter. He described it as exciting but was unable to celebrate it because of the timing. 

“It felt great,” Bosa said. “It was kind of a moment where we had to focus up. So I was like ‘Alright, no celebration, let’s just go.’ It was second down so we had another big play right after it so it was kind of anti-climactic but it was still nice to get it.” 

The 49ers defense was able to get Winston to the ground three times for a loss of 20 yards total, and had him under pressure much of the game. Bosa knew that if the line was able to get pressure on Winston, the Bucs QB would turn it over.

“Yeah, we knew he has a history of turnovers so we just tried to get in his face, stick hands in his face, whatever we could do,” Bosa said. “Close the pocket on him, make him feel suffocated and it turned out, what was it, four turnovers? Two picks? Three picks?” 

[RELATED: Grading 49ers' offense, defense after sloppy win over Bucs]

When Bosa was reminded of the 49ers' previous season where takeaways were less common, he actually laughed and cracked a joke. 

“That’s not normal for this team?” Bosa quipped. “Yeah, I’m just glad to be a part of a winning effort and I’m glad our defense is trending in the right way.” 

Watch Richard Sherman return interception for 49ers touchdown vs. Bucs

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AP

Watch Richard Sherman return interception for 49ers touchdown vs. Bucs

After years of making life tough on 49ers quarterbacks, Richard Sherman has the shoe on the other foot nowadays, and he made perhaps his most important play yet in a San Francisco uniform during the third quarter of the 49ers' Week 1 matchup with the Buccaneers.

Shortly after Jimmy Garoppolo completed his first passing touchdown since tearing his ACL in Week 3 of last year, Sherman further increased San Francisco's lead to 20-7 on Sunday with a pick-six of Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston.

Ironically, it was a near-mirror image of a first-half Garoppolo interception, which the Bucs also returned for a touchdown.

The interception marked Sherman's first since coming over to the 49ers from the Seahawks. It also was San Francisco's second interception of the game after Mark Nzeocha tallied one in the first half.

The 49ers set an NFL record for the fewest interceptions in a season with just two last year, so they've already matched that total before the conclusion of their first game.