Nick Mullens

NFC Notes: Witten, 49ers’ QB Trades, Kessler

Jason Witten made his return to the Cowboys after one year away from the club. As a former locker room leader of the franchise, integrating himself back into the fold could have been tricky, as new leaders have emerged in his absence. However, according to coach Jason Garrett, Witten has had no issues rejoining the team.

“Witt has been very mindful of that coming back,” Garrett said of Witten’s locker room role (via ESPN’s Ed Werder on Twitter). “He doesn’t want to be a guy the younger guys are constantly deferring to. He wants to integrate himself back into it, and he’s done that beautifully.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • It appears the 49ers will hang on to both Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard rather than trading one of the quarterbacks. “We haven’t had talks at all,” GM John Lynch said of the possibility of trades (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports’ Twitter feed).
  • Jimmy Ward was in full pads for the first time this week since he fractured his collarbone, Maiocco tweets. The 49ers gave him a one-year deal this past offseason.
  • Cody Kessler remains in the concussion protocol, per the EaglesTwitter feed. The franchise signed Josh McCown earlier today to add depth at the QB spot.
  • While the Texans may want picks if they are going to trade Jadeveon Clowney, Eliot Shorr-Parks of WIP (Twitter link) contends that the Eagles should offer Derek Barnett straight up for him. Barnett, who was a first-round pick back in 2017, has two years remaining on his deal.

West Notes: 49ers, N. Bosa, Wagner, Benson

The 49ers have not had a high draft pick hold out of training camp since the new CBA and its rookie wage scale were instituted in 2011. However, the club’s top two 2019 draft choices, No. 2 overall pick Nick Bosa and No. 36 overall pick Deebo Samuel, have yet to sign their rookie deals. Cam Inman of the Mercury News believes that both players will be under contract by the time camp opens on Friday, but it seems that the club’s history, rather than any specific information on Bosa or Samuel, is the primary reason for that belief.

Now for more from the league’s west divisions:

  • In the same piece linked above, Inman says that new 49ers acquisitions Kwon Alexander and Jason Verrett — along with every other member of the roster — should be cleared for action when camp opens, though San Francisco may ease them back into action. Inman also suggests that the backup QB competition between Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard will be a close one.
  • This doesn’t come as much of a surprise given earlier reports that new Seahawks defensive end Ezekiel Ansah could miss at least the first month of the regular season, but Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes that Ansah is expected to open training camp on the PUP list. It remains to be seen if Ansah will, in fact, miss any regular season action, though Condotta says there should be more clarity on that front this week.
  • Condotta also believes that Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner will get an extension before the season begins, and it could happen as soon as this week.
  • We have taken several looks at the Broncos‘ WR corps over the past week or so, and UDFA Trinity Benson‘s name keeps cropping up. As Mike Klis of 9News.com writes, Benson took reps with the first-team offense Saturday and caught several passes from Joe Flacco. New head coach Vic Fangio said he will continue to put his unproven players on the field with the presumptive starters, and it seems that Benson has acquitted himself nicely thus far. The fact that he served as a kickoff and punt returner in college will only help his cause.

Extra Points: Grant, Ravens, 49ers, AAF

Receiver Ryan Grant was involved in one of the more bizarre situations of last offseason. The former Redskins receiver looked like he was about to cash in big time, and signed a four-year, $29MM contract with $14.5MM guaranteed with the Ravens. But soon after, the Ravens slapped him with a failed physical designation and voided the contract, making him a free agent again. He ended up settling for a one-year, $5MM deal with the Colts. Now he’s on to a new team, signing a one-year, $2.5MM deal with the Raiders earlier this week. In a recent interview with Sirius XM, Grant dished on what happened with Baltimore and finally explained all the details.

Grant said the Ravens just got cold feet and that the injury that made him fail the physical wasn’t anything serious, just a “mild ankle sprain,” as he put it. Even though he lost out on a significant amount of money, Grant isn’t bitter about it and said he’s genuinely happy to be in Oakland. “I feel like, had I signed with the Ravens, they probably would have, you know, did some other shady stuff to get me traded or released or something like this. So I’m thankful that they did what they did,” Grant explained. “I’m happy where I am now. Super excited to be a part of the Raiders organization. It’s the spirit and the culture of the team. And it just feels like I’ve been drafted all over again. I’m just so ecstatic,” he continued.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • With Jimmy Garoppolo set to return from his ACL tear next season, the 49ers suddenly have a surplus at quarterback. Both C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens are on the roster, and both have at the very least looked like above average backups during their time on the field. Beathard is a 2017 third round pick from Iowa who has started games in both of his first two seasons, and Mullens is a 2017 UDFA from Southern Miss who impressed when he was suddenly thrust into the starting role last season. Both are on cheap rookie deals, and there’s been a lot of speculation San Francisco could look to trade one of them. However, Matt Maioccio of NBC Sports thinks the 49ers will end up keeping all three signal-callers next season. Maioccio also writes it’s “difficult to believe that either has significant trade value around the NFL,” which is a fair point. Both Beathard and Garoppolo have suffered numerous injuries during their brief careers, so it makes sense why they’d want the depth.
  • Tom Dundon, the owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and the lead investor in the AAF, made the call to shutdown the upstart league largely because they were unable to negotiate an agreement with the NFLPA. Dundon wanted practice squad and other bottom of the roster players to be allowed to play in the AAF, but a deal couldn’t be struck in time. Dundon has sought to cast blame for the league’s demise on the NFLPA, but Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com argues the union doesn’t deserve any of the blame. Florio casts Dundon’s case as a “flawed argument,” and breaks down why practice squad players wouldn’t have suddenly saved the league. Dundon essentially came in out of nowhere and tried to strong-arm the union, so it’s hard to disagree with Florio here.

West Rumors: 49ers, Kaep, Broncos, Raiders

The NFL should seek to end the Colin Kaepernick collusion grievance via settlement, if only for its own good, opines Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The league has indeed broached the topic of a financial settlement with Kaepernick and his team, but those talks have reportedly gone nowhere, as Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com indicated earlier this week. A 2019 hearing now appears likely, but as Florio writes, the NFL has a lot to lose by allowing a hearing to take place. League personnel would likely be deposed, internal communications could be made public, and — in a worst-case scenario — Kaepernick could prove collusion did indeed take place. Of course, the former 49ers quarterback would have to be amenable to a settlement, and given that a) he’s earned more than $43MM during his career and b) his grievance and interests don’t appear to be financially motivated, it seems unlikely he’d agree to be paid for his silence.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • The Broncos are “doing a lot of homework” on collegiate tight end prospects in advance of the 2019 draft, according to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.net (Twitter link). Denver has spent consecutive fifth-round picks on tight ends, but both of the club’s selections have fallen victim to injury. 2017 draft choice Jake Butt missed his entire rookie year while recovering from an ACL tear; he played in three games this season before suffering yet another torn ACL (the third of his football career). Meanwhile, 2018 selection Troy Fumagalli has been on IR since August after going down with a thigh injury. Per Gavrino Borquez of USA Today’s Draftwire, the top draft-eligible tight ends include Noah Fant (Iowa), Kaden Smith (Stanford), and T.J. Hockenson (Iowa).
  • In his latest mailbag for The Athletic, Matt Barrows writes — perhaps unsurprisingly — 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is in no danger of losing his job despite a disappointing 2018 campaign. Shanahan and general manager John Lynch signed dual six-year contracts prior to the 2017 season, so he presumably has plenty of leeway to execute his vision in San Francisco. Additionally, the 49ers lost both quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerick McKinnon before September ended, making it difficult to evaluate the club’s offensive talent.
  • More from Burrows, who adds three-game starting quarterback Nick Mullens‘ “leash was shortened” following his lackluster performance against the Buccaneers in Week 12. After tossing three touchdowns in his first NFL start, Mullens — whom the 49ers signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017 — has regressed over the past two weeks, throwing just two scores against four picks while posting a 68.5 passer rating during that time. C.J. Beathard, who’s managed a 81.8 quarterback rating in six appearances this season, is now healthy and could get another shot under center if Mullens struggles against the Seahawks on Sunday.
  • Former Raiders/49ers edge rusher Aldon Smith turned himself into San Francisco police on Tuesday after being accused of domestic violence, reports Evan Sernoffsky of the San Francisco Chronicle. Smith, of course, has been no stranger to off-field incidents since being selected in the first round of the 2011 draft. The Raiders quickly released Smith following another domestic violence episode earlier this year, and it’s obvious Smith will never play in the NFL again.

NFC Notes: Cowboys, 49ers, Bucs, Panthers

The Cowboys don’t intend to fire head coach Jason Garrett during the season, but that doesn’t mean they won’t part ways with their head coach after the campaign is concluded, especially if Dallas doesn’t earn a postseason berth (something the team has a 26% chance to do, per FiveThirtyEight.com). Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley has already been mentioned as a potential candidate for the Cowboys if Garrett is shown the door, but owner Jerry Jones, predictably, isn’t tipping his hand on any possible contenders for the head coaching job. “That would be total drawing it out of the air,” Jones said of Riley, per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). “Totally speculation.” Riley has also been mentioned as a target for the Browns, especially given that he coached Baker Mayfield with the Sooners.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Given how Nick Mullens has played through two starts, he’ll remain the 49ers‘ starting quarterback on an open-ended basis, head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters, including Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). Mullens, who started in place on an injured C.J. Beathard in Week 9, completed 73% of his passes and tossed three touchdowns in his first career NFL action. While he came back to Earth a bit in Week 10 (250 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions), he still nearly led San Francisco to a victory over the Giants on Monday night. In the midst of what’s become a lost season, the 49ers might be well-served to get a full look at Mullens, who went undrafted out of Southern Mississippi in 2017.
  • Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David is likely to miss time with a sprained MCL, sources tell Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. While David has yet to be officially ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Giants, the nature of his injury usually dictates a two-to-four weeks absence, per Laine, meaning David could conceivably be sidelined through mid-December. Tampa Bay can ill afford another injury at the linebacker position, as the club has already placed starter Kwon Alexander and reserve Jack Cichy on injured reserve, while 2017 draft choice Kendell Beckwith is still on the non-football injury list.
  • Panthers defensive tackle Dontari Poe collected a $125K bonus today by weighing in at less than 330 pounds, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Poe inked a three-year, $28MM contract with Carolina this offseason, and the deal provides the opportunity for the interior defender to collect up to $500K per season via weight bonuses. The former Chief and Falcon is playing far fewer snaps in 2018 than he has in years prior — whereas he typically played in 75%+ of his team’s snaps from 2012-16, he’s now sitting at the 50% mark with Carolina.

Nick Mullens Expected To Remain 49ers’ Starting QB

After 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard — who was only starting for San Francisco because No. 1 signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo is out for the season with an ACL tear — was injured during the team’s Week 8 loss to the Cardinals, the 49ers turned to Nick Mullens to replace him for their Thursday night bout against the Raiders.

All Mullens did was turn in one of the best NFL debuts in league history. The 2017 UDFA out of Southern Miss was 16 of 22 for 262 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions as the 49ers trounced their Bay Area rivals 34-3. Most have assumed that performance would allow Mullens to retain control of the starting job moving forward, and that is apparently the correct assumption.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Mullens is expected to remain the 49ers’ starting quarterback when their season resumes next Monday. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has not yet made an official announcement, as he wants to talk to his players first, but Rapoport says it would be a major surprise if Mullens did not get the nod.

Even after the win, the 49ers are 2-7, and whatever playoff hopes they had went out the window when Garoppolo went down. And since the team has seen Beathard, a 2017 third-round pick, produce one win and mediocre statistics during his ten games as a starter over the last two seasons, it makes sense to at least give Mullens a shot.

Mullens, who was summoned from the practice squad to serve as Beathard’s backup in September, is Southern Mississippi’s career passing leader in every major category. His collegiate numbers considerably outshine those of fellow Golden Eagles alum Brett Favre, but it’s probably a bit too early to begin comparing their professional careers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Promote Nick Mullens From P-Squad

The 49ers will promote quarterback Nick Mullens from the practice squad, as Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Mullens will serve as the No. 2 quarterback behind C.J. Beathard, who has been promoted to the top job after Jimmy Garoppolo‘s ACL tear. 

The Niners’ QB search isn’t necessarily done there. On Tuesday, they’ll work out a group of veteran QBs including Tom SavageT.J. Yates, and Kellen Clemens. Former Dolphins backup Matt Moore may also take part in the audition. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has already said that the team won’t bring in any competition for Beathard, so any quarterback signed would be added as a backup.

Mullens, a Southern Mississippi product, threw for 87 touchdowns against 46 interceptions across his four-year collegiate career. He spent time in camp with the club last offseason and was re-signed on a futures deal this past January.

The 1-2 49ers will have their work cut out for them without Garoppolo and their first test comes on Sunday against the Chargers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sunday NFL Transactions: NFC West

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four NFC West teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Cardinals, Rams, 49ers, and Seahawks are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s NFC West transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:

Arizona Cardinals

Signed:

Claimed:

Cut:

Practice squad:

Los Angeles Rams

Practice squad:

San Francisco 49ers

Signed to practice squad:

Seattle Seahawks

Claimed:

Cut:

* = practice squad exception

49ers Cut 21 Players, Reach 53-Man Max

The 49ers have reached the 53-man roster maximum after releasing 21 players on Saturday afternoon. Here’s the full rundown:

The following players have been released:

In addition to those cuts, the Niners also have a few extra spots on their initial 53-man roster thanks to suspensions for wide receiver Victor Bolden and linebacker Reuben Foster. They’ll also be without defensive lineman Kentavius Street as he sits on the NFI list.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/2/18

Here are the latest reserve/futures contract signings from around the NFL. These deals will go into effect on the first day of the 2018 league year, with players joining their respective clubs’ offseason 90-man rosters:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

  • WR Jake Kumerow
  • WR Colby Pearson
  • TE Robert Tonyan
  • LS Zach Triner
  • WR DeAngelo Yancey

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