Nick Mullens has been exceptional leading the 49ers offense in Jimmy Garoppolo’s absence but coach Kyle Shanahan is adamant there’s no quarterback controversy.
“No, that scenario doesn’t exist, but I don’t think past one game either,” Shanahan said on Wednesday. “This is Jimmy’s team. He’s done a hell of a job for us and when he’s healthy, he’ll be playing again for us.”
Since taking over the 49ers offense in 2017, Garoppolo has a regular-season record of 20-6. In 2019, his only full regular season as a starter, he threw for nearly 4,000 yards and led his team to a Super Bowl appearance.
Normally when a team is faced with losing a starting quarterback to injury, the play of the offense declines. That was not the case when Mullens took over in Week 3.
Mullens’ first start since 2018 resulted in a 36-9 dismantling of the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The 25-year old quarterback completed 25 of his 36 passes for 343 yards and a touchdown, which ranks him near the top of all quarterbacks through their first nine games.
While Shanahan has never wavered in his support of Garoppolo, Mullens might get another chance under center on Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. Garoppolo, who sat out practice Wednesday, will need to prove to his coach that he is mobile enough to not sustain further injury to his ankle.
“He’s just got to be able to be healthy in terms of if he can run around and protect himself, make throws,” Shanahan said. “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. It would be tough for us to see that and truly judge that if he didn’t get into practice.”
Shanahan further clarified that he will need to see Garoppolo do more than individual drills to be listed as the starter on Sunday Night Football facing the Eagles. The quarterback will need to be able to show in team drills that he has the necessary mobility for a game.
If Garoppolo is unable to practice, Mullens will start for a second consecutive week.