SANTA CLARA — Nick Mullens proved he can play in the NFL, but he still gave a ton of credit to his teammates for the 49ers' 26-23 win over the Seahawks on Sunday.
As usual, there were a few throws the quarterback would like to have back, like the two intended for tight end George Kittle that were potential touchdowns. But in the end, there was a happy ending to the story, and the 49ers walked out of Levi’s Stadium with their fourth win of the season.
“I was just so proud that we found a way to win,” Mullens said. “Might not have been the prettiest. Everybody worked well together. When we were passing the ball, that was cool. But when we didn’t do good passing the ball, we ran the ball well.
"Then, when we didn’t convert on offense, the defense stepped up, and then the special-teams touchdown. So, if you want to look at a textbook, collective team win, I believe that was it.”
Mullens had a respectable day. He completed 20 of his 29 passes for 275 yards and one touchdown, giving him a 110.6 rating. He did enough for 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan to not make a move at QB for another week.
Mullens also might have done enough for people outside of the building to really take notice.
Early in the fourth quarter, Mullens threw a perfect 30-yard pass toward the right sideline, where wide receiver Dante Pettis hauled in a catch that Seahawks defensive back Shaquil Griffin had no chance of covering.
“Yeah, it was man coverage,” Mulllens said. “It’s a play that we like against man coverage. As long as I just held the safety, then I like Dante on the matchup. He did a great job of giving me space to throw it and made a great catch with a wet ball. So, it was a great play.”
Mullens obviously has grown more comfortable since his first start under center, in Week 9 against the Raiders. Shanahan said he continues to see Mullens progressing six weeks later.
“The more guys play,” Shanahan said. “and the more success they have, the more confidence they get. He did a great job that second half throwing the ball two weeks ago [against the Seahawks in Seattle].
“I thought we had a lot more success throwing the ball today. We struggled on third downs from what I remember today in the second half, and we didn’t get to stay on the field as long and get those opportunities. I think Nick is getting better the more he plays.”
Mullens believes that playing the same team twice in three weeks helped the 49ers prepare, ultimately allowing them to snap a 10-game losing streak against their NFC West rivals.
“I think the previous game against Seattle helped us a lot,” Mullens said. “I really felt like there were places we could attack them. Even in the first game, we just didn’t do a very good job of it. So, we were excited coming in. We knew it was going to be a dog fight.”
The 49ers' sense of urgency definitely has turned around since that lackadaisical start in Seattle. Mullens said it was evident in the locker room before Sunday's win.
“We knew they were confident," Mullens said. "We were confident. Obviously, the rivalry and things like that. Those are the games you get pumped up to play in.
“Like Coach said last night, ‘I don’t even have to tell you all anything. If you’re not pumped up for this, then something’s wrong with you.’ So, that’s kind of how I felt going into the game and how we felt. We knew it was going to be a dogfight.”