QB Nick Mullens Press Conference

QB Nick Mullens

Press Conference – November 3, 2020

San Francisco 49ers

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Obviously with the news about QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s not great. But, for you it gives you an opportunity possibly to finish out the season. Obviously, you’ve got a game Thursday, but I mean, how do you view that, another chance to kind of show what you’re capable of, I guess?

“Yeah, definitely. You just take it one step at a time. One game at a time, one week at a time. Green Bay is obviously coming fast and so that’s all we’re focused on right now. Any chance you get to step on the field, you’ve got to take advantage of it and lead the team and play well. And so, I’m really looking forward to it. Just taking it one week at a time.”

Before getting more into Packers talk, can you just kind of share with us what it’s like in the locker room with Jimmy, what kind of interaction you’ve had with him, his frustration, since we haven’t been able to talk with them and how he’s helping you prepare?

“Yeah. I mean, Jimmy is one of the most positive dudes in the locker room and obviously a very positive leader. And so, he’s in good spirits. We obviously all, you know, feel terrible for him. It’s just really unfortunate the way it happened. But, he’s in good spirits, positive and he’ll continue to lead and do his part however he can.”

It seemed like you had a good rapport, chemistry with WR Brandon Aiyuk in the second half of Sunday’s game. What’s that process been like for you? Have you had to play a little bit of catch up in that regard? Just kind of getting on the same page, same connection as the rookie?

“Yeah, I feel like not too much because we got a lot of reps with each other in camp, just been throwing, throw to him a good bit throughout the year, even whether it’s practice or things like that. And it’s a lot easier to gain rapport with a guy like that when he has a great attitude and when he’s fully committed and when he’s confident. Brandon, it’s funny talking with him he really, he started to realize how to be a pro and I think you can see that each and every week his confidence is building and it’s a lot of fun to throw him the ball.”

Head coach Kyle Shanahan was just kind of referencing, you know, obviously don’t have a lot of time to dwell on it, but when all these injuries continue to stack up the way they have, and then you get more news like you got yesterday, how difficult is it to kind of move past it and deal with it and how do you think the locker room’s handling it?

“Yeah, it’s tough, but I think our guys are doing a great job and staying positive and confident with the guys that we have. You know, there’s really no reason not to be confident. We believe in our teammates and you’ve just got to keep going. I think that’s the biggest thing. The NFL’s tough, you’re going to be dealt a different hand of cards every year. You’ve got to take it, run with it and just keep going. And that’s the locker room’s mindset.”

Kyle mentioned the first start you made against the Raiders, which was also a Thursday night game. Do you remember, can you take us through what the preparation was like in that short week and is there anything, and it was a long time ago, but is there anything you can take from the way you prepared for that game into this one?

“Yeah, I think the biggest thing, you don’t get too many full-speed physical reps, but, just sticking to your progressions. I remember back in, versus Oakland, it was my first start, probably pretty nervous. But, just going through those walkthroughs really nailing down your progressions, knowing where your early outs are and things like that. It’s really just what I was focusing on during that week. And, it’s the same thing I’ve been focusing on. So yeah, it definitely helps, going through it and Thursday games do come fast.”

Is it a fair assessment that Seattle’s defense did things on Sunday that they hadn’t shown on film previously?

“I think we’ve gotten that pretty much every game this year. You know, I think after a really dynamic year that we had last year defenses are going to switch things up and play a little bit different. That’s part of the game. That’s why you just continue to work, execute, study, and prepare as hard as you can and adjust on the run. So, I think we’ve actually got a little bit of that probably just about every game this year.”

You’ve been in this position before taking over at a starting quarterback. What is your leadership style? How do you come in and lead as the starter?

“Yeah, I think, the biggest thing is you can’t be a great leader if you’re not making plays. I know that attributes to Sundays, but that’s the biggest thing. And I think you just earn guys respect by the way you play, by the way you handle your business. I think that’s how it comes first. And then, talking about leadership, I’ve always in my mind it’s one thing that my college coach always told me was it’s positive influence. Just making guys better, no matter how you do it, how you relate. That’s the biggest thing. And so, I think we have a great group of guys in the locker room. They’re fun to be around and I’m just going to bring energy, attitude and just a little bit of grit and ready to get after it and ready to play.”

You mentioned a minute ago that you could tell Brandon Aiyuk is becoming a better pro just from talking to him. Can you give an example of what you mean?

“Yeah, I think it’s just the way you practice. You know, it’s a funny conversation. He was telling me about how in college you kind of know what opponent you’re going to get that week so you might not have to practice as hard because you already know that you’re better than them. But, once you get to the NFL, you realize any team can beat any team at any week. And so, he’s starting to figure that out, figuring out that the way you practice is the way that you play each and every single week. And so, he’s balling out in the games, but he’s balling out in practice too. And that just comes with rookie maturation and it’s really cool to watch.”

Obviously, TE George Kittle is not a guy that’s going to be replaced. Can you describe just what he does, how he impacts a defense and in trying to fill the void what you guys can do to make it, I guess, a little less painful?

“Yeah. Kittle’s a beast, man. Just on the field, anytime you get the ball in his hands. Everybody’s aware of how special he is. But, he’s also that special of a teammate. So, I feel, we all feel terrible for him and his foot. Talked to him earlier, you know, he’s trying to stay positive and things like that. But on the field, you know, we have our guys. [TE Ross] Dwelley, he has been one of the most consistent football players on our team for a long time. And so, he’s obviously going to get his opportunities. And then, you’ve got [WR] Trent [Taylor] and Aiyuk and [WR] Kendrick [Bourne], so there’s plenty of playmakers out there and it’s on me to get them the ball. I think that’s one big thing for the offense is just play as a unit, stay ahead of the chains and go out there and execute.”

Jimmy’s been on the sidelines a few times when you’ve been in there as a starter. What is he like when you go back to the sidelines? Does he talk to you before the plays, tell you what he sees? How does he communicate with you when that’s going on?

“Yeah, Jimmy’s sharp on the sidelines. He sees some different things that I might not have seen. And he’s just always there as a supportive teammate. Anything that he sees, he’ll let me know. Anything, any questions, any different things like that. He does his job and that’s something I respect a lot about Jimmy. He’s always there to help. And that’s our whole quarterback room. Me, [QB] C.J. [Beathard], Jimmy, [quarterbacks coach] Shane [Day] and [passing game coordinator Matt] LaFleur. We have a good group, very cohesive, we work together and we always build each other up.”

On your long completion to George Kittle, it looked on film like there was no hesitation when you got the ball and threw it. Like you saw something. What did you see on that play and why did you go there?

“Oh yeah, it was man coverage with a single-high safety. So, you just know your matchups, like the matchup, George won off the line and just gave him a chance and he got up and made a great play.”