49ers begin week with Mullens at QB in place of Garoppolo
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers began a second straight week of practice with Nick Mullens at quarterback in place of injured starter Jimmy Garoppolo.
Garoppolo missed practice Wednesday with a sprained ankle suffered in Week 2 and his status for Sunday night’s game against Philadelphia remains in doubt.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said Garoppolo will have to show in practice that he’s healthy enough to avoid the pass rush in order to play Sunday.
“Anytime you’re dealing with an ankle, you might feel all right when you’re standing there, but can you move around and get into the awkward positions without hurting yourself? That’s really what we’d have to see,” Shanahan said. “It would be tough for us to see that and truly judge that if he didn’t get into practice. So, hopefully can get out there for at least one live period and we have those all the way up until Friday. We’ve just got to see that he’s healthy, but that won’t be able to happen if we can’t get him in practice.”
The Niners did get some good news on the injury front with No. 1 receiver Deebo Samuel having a 21-day practice window open and All-Pro tight end George Kittle being a full participant.
Samuel hasn’t practiced all season and was placed on injured reserve with a broken foot suffered in informal offseason workouts. Samuel caught 57 passes for 802 yards and three TDs as a rookie last season and also made big contributions in the running game. He had 14 carries for 159 yards and three scores.
“He’s healthy, so we just want to see him out there and get back in the swing of playing football,” Shanahan said. “It’s been awhile since he has. ... We just need to see him go through three days and what type of shape he’s in and if he can protect himself, he’ll be out there.”
Kittle missed the past two games with a sprained knee. He is one of the most important pieces to San Francisco’s offense as both a dominating run blocker and the team’s biggest threat in the passing game.
His 216 catches for 2,945 yards are the most ever for a tight end in his first three NFL seasons.
Having a healthy Kittle and possibly Samuel will be a big boost for whoever starts at quarterback. Mullens showed the dropoff isn’t too big when Garoppolo is hurt by throwing for 343 yards and a touchdown in a win last week against the Giants in his first start in nearly 21 months.
Mullens has been very productive when he has played, with his 2,620 yards passing in nine career starts ranking third most at that juncture of a career, trailing only Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck.
“I think his confidence was definitely up there,” right tackle Mike McGlinchey said. “I think this time around, he knew he’s had some accomplishments in this game as a starter. He’s had success as a starter for our football team. I think it was just getting back to what he does. Nick’s as good of a pro as we have in this building. He’s always on his preparation. The way that his mind works and the way that he’s able to think through the demands of our offense is as good as anybody.”
Despite how well Mullens has played, there’s no quarterback controversy. Shanahan said there’s no scenario where Mullens could play well enough to supplant a healthy Garoppolo as starter.
“This is Jimmy’s team,” Shanahan said. "He’s done a hell of a job for us and when he’s healthy, he’ll be playing again for us.”
NOTES: DE Dee Ford (back), LB Dre Greenlaw (quadriceps), CB Emmanuel Moseley (concussion), RB Raheem Mostert (knee), CB K’Waun Williams (hip) and TE Jordan Reed (knee) didn’t practice. ... After several bad snaps on kicks last week, the Niners released long snapper Kyle Nelson and signed Taybor Peper for the role. ... San Francisco also signed TE Daniel Helm from Tampa Bay’s practice squad to the active roster. ... LB Mark Nzeocha (quadrieps) was placed on IR. ... The team signed OL Cody Conway and TE Charlie Taumoepeau to the practice squad and released OL William Sweet from the practice squad.
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