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#pounditWednesday, April 14, 2021

49ers consider Nick Mullens a ‘very viable alternative’ to Jimmy Garappolo?

Jimmy Garoppolo

It would be unfair to expect Jimmy Garoppolo to come out of the gate looking sharp this season less than a year removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL, but to say the quarterback has looked rusty this offseason would be an understatement. If that turns into the new normal for Garoppolo, how long will the San Francisco 49ers stick with him?

Perhaps not very long at all.

Michael Silver of NFL Network was asked during an interview with 97.5 The Game on Monday which Bay Area quarterback is facing more pressure this season — Garoppolo or Derek Carr. Silver chose Garoppolo because he believes the Niners consider backup Nick Mullens to be a “very viable alternative.”

Mullens, whom San Francisco signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017, burst onto the national scene last year when he had a huge game replacing an injured CJ Beathard. He ended up playing in eight games and had some ups and downs, finishing with 2,227 yards passing, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The 49ers went 2-5 in the seven games he started.

Garoppolo threw interceptions on five consecutive passes during training camp at one point this summer. While practice means very little, that is obviously a sign that he is rusty and not making proper reads. He also completed just 1-of-6 pass attempts and threw an interception in a preseason game against the Denver Broncos. Again, fairly meaningless, but probably not a great sign.

Even if the Niners weren’t enamored with Mullens, the five-year, $137.5 million contract Garoppolo signed last year is structured in such a way that he could be released next offseason with just $1.4 million in dead cap money each of the next three seasons if he’s designated a post-June 1 cut. He counted a whopping $37 million against the salary cap last season, and the 49ers gave him most of his money up front. If they don’t think he is capable of leading them to the playoffs, the team has a very feasible path to moving on from Garoppolo.

Ideally, Garoppolo will round into form. He has admitted to being frustrated with coming back from a torn ACL, but 49ers GM John Lynch does not seem concerned about that. While it’d be hard to imagine a team cutting bait with a player they invested that much money in without giving him more than a full season post-ACL surgery, it certainly doesn’t seem out of the question.


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