Mullens discussed the final offensive play of the game and assessed the team's offensive performance in Week 16.
Can you just take us through the last play, what you saw and what are you going through?
“Yeah, it was fourth-and-four. I mean, I’ve just got to handle the situation better. I should have ran. I didn’t run. In the heat of battle, a lot of things are happening fast, split-second decisions. Saw [WR Marquise Goodwin] ‘Quise down the field. Tried to give him a chance, instead of making the simple play. I didn’t make the simple play.”
You said it was fourth-and-four. You should have known that before the snap. Did you lose track of the--?
“No, no. I definitely knew it was fourth down. But, in the heat of the battle, you’re just trying to make the big play. It wasn’t a smart decision.”
Nick, when you say that, at what point after did you realize ‘I should’ve just taken the first down?’
“The second I threw it. If you look at the film or whatever, I mean I stood there for 30 seconds just understanding what I’ve just did, and how big of a mistake it was.”
What exactly stopped you from running? Were you just trying to make the big play?
“Yeah, just trying to make a play at that point. You see Marquise down the field, I just wanted to give him a chance for a big play.”
How long do these linger with you, when you have a play like this? I can’t imagine it’s happened very often.
“Yeah, no. I think the biggest thing is you know that you had opportunities to win the game. You had opportunities to step up, make the big play and we didn’t do that today. I think that’s a thing that hurts worse in these types of losses, is there were things there. There were opportunities there. We didn’t take advantage of those opportunities. We feel like we definitely could have.”
One of those opportunities, the interception there in the red zone. What did you see there?
“We had an out route, a shallow route. I thought ‘Quise outran the backer. I just left it too far out in front of him. Just an execution error that can’t happen at a crucial point in the game.”
You seemed really animated and upset on the sideline there. Were you upset with the throw that you made? What was the frustration?
“Yeah, yeah. I feel like it’s just a stupid turnover. It’s not ‘Quise’s fault. I didn’t feel like it was my fault. The way the ball tipped, it went into the guy’s hands. It’s a frustrating turnover. It’s definitely a preventable one. Just can’t let those things happen. We’re moving the ball, got a lot of momentum. Really, just going to look to take the lead in the late fourth quarter. Moments of truth, you want to execute. You want to go out there, you feel like there’s a certain time to take control of the game. Just one inaccurate throw and it changes the course of the game.”
When you talked Wednesday, you talked and said you were pretty excited about the game plan and the plan of attack against this defense. What was it that you guys had planned that had you so excited?
“I think just the opportunities that we had. We knew they were a good defense. But, I feel like if we just stayed balanced, went out and executed and did our jobs, we felt like we had a great chance in this ball game. It ended up being the exact type of game we thought. We knew it was going to be a dogfight. We knew it was going to be tough. But, we knew we’d also have opportunities. So, it was exactly what we wanted. We just didn’t take advantage and finish.”
You moved the ball at times. But, we didn’t see the big plays from the offense that we had seen the previous couple weeks. What does that defense do to limit big plays?
“Yeah, I mean that’s why they’re so good. They do, they limit big plays. They have great corners. They have a great front seven. Their safeties are pretty good, too. They have very talented players and a great scheme. The way they were switching up personnel and things like that was another challenge. The game within the game, the guys they have on the field, what plays are against good against those personnel’s. They were playing like a blanket out there, I guess you could say. We knew we weren’t going to get too many home-run balls I guess you could say. They were keeping everything in front. You have to be very disciplined as an offense when you play a defense like that. I thought at times we were, and at times we weren’t. Just came up short.”
You obviously weren’t on the field, but what goes through your mind when you see CB Richard Sherman run into the fracas and have his teammates back like that?
“Yeah, it’s awesome. You definitely don’t want penalties. But, the fact that he’s fighting for our team, standing up, that’s what we take pride in. We know the brotherhood we have here. We know the bond that we have, no matter who’s out on the field. That’s why I’m almost most proud of the team this year. Look at the things we’ve gone through. We have a great group of guys. It’s a pretty darn good football team we just played and look how we fought. There’s no moral victories. But, we know the type of people that we have in the room. That’s what matters.”
The final play of the game when you make the wrong decision in that situation, is that the kind of play that you replay in your mind over and over again, or do you let it go and move on?
“No, I’ve been replaying it this whole time we’ve been talking. Like, 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 did head coach Kyle Shanahan say to you after that? Did he give you words of advice?
“Not much yet. We’ll go back and watch the tape. I’ll understand, like I already do, that it was a mistake. Just got to learn from it and handle the situation better.”
You said coming in you wanted to be balanced. You took 38 pass attempts. Is that what you were expecting?
“Every game has a different flow. I don’t have a number pre-game of what I expect to throw. It’s kind of how the game shook up.”