Millions of football fans may not have ever heard the name Nick Mullens were familiarized on Thursday night, November 1, when the backup San Francisco 49ers quarterback set a whole host of NFL records. His excellent plays were made en route to single-handedly dismantling the Oakland Raiders’ defense to the tune of a 34-3 blowout victory.
His performance was so electrifying that even the administrators over at Twitter took notice, jumping to verify the undrafted play-caller before his professional debut was over.
As the Thursday Night Football crew calling Week 9’s action pointed out, and which CBS Sports has gone on to report, Mullens’ Twitter page received its coveted blue check mark while he continued to pile the points on in the third quarter. Just minutes prior to the audience being alerted about the news, a couple of the game’s broadcasters took a moment aside from their half-time analysis to joke that Mullens’ jersey sales were already shooting through the roof. It was all for good reason, as the 2nd-year player out of Southern Mississippi University was on his way to completing 16-of-22 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns. The result would be to give the Niners their second win of the season.
Mullens may have surpassed each of Brett Favre’s college records to become the most successful QB in the history of their alma mater, but living up to the Green Bay Packers legend at the pro-level is something nobody saw coming — especially from a guy who was cut in his 2017 rookie season and was only elevated to the team’s roster this year because franchise star Jimmy Garoppolo is out for the season with a torn ACL.
Nevertheless, backup C.J. Beathard’s status was downgraded from a game-time-decision to him being out of commission, thereby giving Mullens a puncher’s chance to prove that he belongs — and he did.
Newsweek points out that in spite of them being two of the greatest quarterbacks in 49ers history, neither the debuts of Joe Montana nor Steve Young came close to measuring up to Mullens’. Both Montana and Young failed to score a touchdown — or even crack 100 passing yards — in their respective first games. In terms of accuracy, Mullens’ performance transcended any comparison — as he became only one of three quarterbacks since 1950 to hit three touchdown targets and accumulate more than 250 passing yards without being intercepted.
The stat-line was good enough to give him a 151.9 passer rating, which is now the highest in nearly 50 years for any player who’s thrown more than 20 passing attempts in their NFL debut. It was also good enough to send him trending on Twitter, and to become the unsuspecting recipient of scores of followers across social media platforms.