SANTA CLARA — Nick Mullens knew he screwed up.
It was his final throw of the 49ers’ 14-9 loss to the Chicago Bears. There was 1:14 remaining in the fourth quarter, and it was fourth and 4 from the Bears’ 45-yard line. The 49ers were on the verge of beating a playoff team if they could score a touchdown.
Mullens scrambled out of the pocket to his right and saw nothing but green grass in front of him. A direct line to the first-down marker. He could have skipped for the first down, somersaulted out of bounds, stopped the clock and moonwalked back to the huddle.
Instead, Mullens cocked back and threw deep downfield to wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who was covered. The pass landed out of bounds. That ended the 49ers’ chances, and they lost, 14-9. Mullens had made a fundamental mistake, perhaps due to inexperience. The 49ers’ record is now 4-11. The Bears are 11-4.
“If you look at the film,” Mullens said, “I stood there for 30 seconds just understanding what I had done, and how big of a mistake it was. I’ve been replaying it this whole time we’ve been talking, since I walked off the field. I know exactly what I did. I know exactly what I should’ve done. I know exactly how that game could’ve ended up if we would’ve just made the plays we were supposed to make.”
What exactly does Mullens think he should have done differently?
“I should have ran,” Mullens confessed. “I didn’t run. In the heat of battle, a lot of things are happening fast, split-second decisions. Saw ’Quise down the field. Tried to give him a chance instead of making the simple play. I didn’t make the simple play. It wasn’t a smart decision.”
And it was the one bad decision Mullens made all game.
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