Five 49er quotes on QB Nick Mullens’ killer debut

Not a bad little start.

Nick Mullens — a third-stringer pushed into his first NFL start Thursday because of injuries — completed 16 of 22 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns for the 49ers in a 34-3 romp over the Raiders.

His passer rating: 151.9, only 6.4 points shy of a perfect 158.3 score, so good that he earned a congratulatory call from Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre during a postgame interview with NFL Network.

“I think I’m here for a reason,” said Mullens, 23, “and it was my opportunity to prove that I can play.”

Still, the Niners had to be surprised, right? Right?

Apparently not, based on what they told reporters (via NBC Sports Bay Area and the San Francisco Chronicle):

Coach Kyle Shanahan: “We were keeping our secret weapon ready to go.”

Running back Matt Breida: “He’s been like that since Day 1. He comes in and prepares extremely hard. He prepares as if he’s going to be a starter every week, and I expected this from him, to be that good. He just went out there, went in the huddle like he’s been doing this his whole life, and it showed tonight. … I come in there early in the morning, and he’s here before me, just sitting in his locker going through plays, watching film. I’m like, ‘Nick, take a break,’ and he says, ‘Man, I can’t.'”

Tight end George Kittle: “He’s a guy who is literally more prepared than Coach Shanahan for our games. He doesn’t care if he’s on the practice squad, doesn’t matter if he’s second string, third string. He’s a guy that prepares every week like he is the starter. That’s completely on him, and that’s not on anyone telling him he should study more. That’s just him being 100 percent prepared.” 

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Veteran tackle Joe Staley: “The guy’s been working very hard for the past two years, ever since he got here. Undrafted quarterback, just trying to make the roster as a rookie. His work ethic has shown every day since he’s been here. So I knew, I think everyone in this locker room knew, that he was ready for this moment. He was ready because he prepared for it. … It’s kind of one of those feel-good stories. This guy that’s worked hard consistently, not complaining about the lack of opportunities that he’s had, just kind of always ready for his moment. And his moment came up today, on national television, and he came up in a big way.”

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk: “He killed it. Dude is a gamer, man. We saw it all in the preseason. When he gets an opportunity, he goes out there and makes the most of it. He did a great job of that today. There’s a difference between preseason and regular-season games. Especially a Thursday night game, prime time, under the lights, and we had seen him in the preseason do what he did. To see him go out there and duplicate that on such a big stage, it was impressive. It was really cool to see.” 

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