SANTA CLARA — The results on the field say Nick Mullens is a better quarterback than C.J. Beathard. But head coach Kyle Shanahan says they’re “dead even.”
Mullens and Beathard each have started five games in 2018. Mullens’ completion percentage is 63.8; Beathard’s is 60.4. Mullens’ quarterback rating is 93.5; Beathard’s is 81.8. Mullens has committed six turnovers; Beathard has committed 10. Mullens has taken 10 sacks; Beathard has taken 18. Mullens has won two games; Beathard has won zero.
And yet, Shanahan won’t give Mullens the edge over Beathard. Those two must compete to be the backup quarterback during next year’s training camp. Shanahan explained why Wednesday morning.
“It starts with how they were coming out of college, their ceiling and who you think has the most ability,” Shanahan said. “Then, it goes to practice each day. Some of the throws and the plays that people make — that’s where C.J. was ahead of (Mullens) and beat him out. Nick got his opportunity because of injury. He’s been very consistent in games. He’s played very well, and that’s why he hasn’t lost (the starting job).”
In other words, even though Mullens has outplayed Beathard, Shanahan believes Beathard may have more physical ability and long-term potential. That’s what the 49ers believed when they traded up for Beathard in the third round of the 2017 draft, then waited to sign Mullens as an undrafted free agent.
“I’ve been around the league for a while,” Shanahan said. “You study 30 (quarterbacks) every year and usually less than 10 of them get drafted. So, you’ve got a feel on the type of guys that get drafted, the type of guys that don’t. We didn’t think (Mullens) was going to get drafted. When you don’t think someone’s going to get drafted, then you don’t need to draft him.
“You have to have a certain amount of talent to play in the NFL. You have to have the requirement to get into the club. (Mullens) has enough (talent) to be successful, and he’s detailed and deliberate in everything he does.”
But he doesn’t have overwhelming talent. He has just enough, according to Shanahan.
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