Nick Mullens: ‘It’s Important we Start Fast’ in Tampa Bay

49ers QB shared his mindset heading into his first away game as a starter and broke down what the offense needs to do.

How did you spend your Bye week?

“Definitely got away and relaxed. Got some rest. It was good to get my legs back under me and just hung out with my family and stayed here. It was a solid Bye week.”

Given your reputation, it seemed like you fit in some studying or no? Did you really get away?

“For a couple days. But, at the same time, you have to continue to prepare and take advantage of those extra days and I definitely did that as well.”

How does your approach kind of change now that head coach Kyle Shanahan has said that you’re the starter the rest of the way, barring anything unforeseen?

“My mindset doesn’t change no matter what position I’m in. For the Niners, nothing changes. My work ethic doesn’t change and it’s up to me to really do everything that I’ve done to get here. So, just got to continue the same approach and keep getting better every day.”

Does it take a little sense off of the, ‘I don’t need to go in and press on every single down and every single series, I know I’m going to be here for the duration of the game?’

“No, I don’t think like that at all. I have to prove myself every single day, every single rep and every single play. It’s just the way the league works, and it’s how I want to be. I want to achieve, and if I don’t, I know what comes.”

Did you self-scout over the Bye?

“Yeah. I’m always self-scouting personally. I have a lot of things I need to work on. It’s always running through your mind. It keeps me pretty angry most of the time, to be honest. I’m always hard on myself. So, yeah, there’s definitely some things I need to get better at for this team to be better.”

What are you pleased with what you’ve done so far?

“I like my decision making for the most part, so far. Just got to stay the course. It’s obviously a long journey and you’ve got to take things one week at a time and really just keep staying in the pocket, protecting the ball and progressing. It’s where I’m most successful, so I’ve just got to be the best at that.”

You’ve mentioned it before, listening to the crowd noise and spitting out the plays. This is your first road game. Have you already started doing that more this week or will you do that as you go into the next couple weeks?

“Yeah. That definitely is a new challenge. I haven’t played on the road yet, but I think this team is excited and we’re ready. Coming off the Bye week, it’s important that we start fast and really come out fast. It’s important. Coach Shanahan talked about how do you respond to the Bye week? It gave us a good week to rest. But, now we’re excited to attack this first road game. It’s important for me that I just keep my same mindset. It only matters what you do on the field and don’t let the environment impact the way you play.”

Can you lay out how you do, what is your process with the crowd noise and practicing?

“We obviously put a lot of hours in during the day learning the plays, walking through the plays and then practicing the plays, obviously. But, work doesn’t stop here. You go home, you study the plays and you really just have a very strict routine that I try to stick to. It helps me prepare and that does involve calling out the plays and envisioning the plays and seeing them in your head. That helps me be successful.”

What are your go-to Apple Music crowd noise things that you find on there?

“If you just search it, it says crowd noise.”

But, there’s not like one or two you use on a regular basis?

“Stadium, or whatever sounds like a stadium, I guess.”

Does your wife know what you’re doing when you’re yelling?

“Yeah. She’s just sitting there next to me hanging out.”

Are you yelling out the plays with the headphones?

“Yeah. I wouldn’t say yelling, but just do what you have to do to prepare and what helps me put myself in this situation.”

Are you mad at TE George Kittle for exposing this?

“It doesn’t matter.”

Is there anything about George that you’d like to put out there?

“You guys know as well as I do, George is a character, man. I’m sure you guys all love him. But, yeah, he’s a great teammate. Obviously, has one heck of a personality that people gravitate to and he’s been a great player for us. George has been a weapon for us all year and he works his butt off. Everybody around the team knows that. So, he’s definitely a captain for a reason.”

You seem like you had a pretty quick chemistry with him on the field. Where does that kind of stem from?

“We might have not worked together for the whole time that I’ve been here in two years, but we’ve been around together for two years now. I think our whole rookie class from last year has a great chemistry. I think it just attributes to that, and obviously, it hasn’t mattered what quarterback is in there. He’s been making plays since day one. You can credit him to that chemistry because it doesn’t matter who is in there. He’s going to catch it and step up and make plays.”

Do you have a lot of people coming to this game, your family and stuff?

“A handful, yes sir. I’ve been lucky enough to have support in my starts. So, yeah, it’s exciting to see them.”

Anyone coming from Alabama just because it’s close?

“Yes sir. Yes.”

How many tickets did you have to get?

“A handful.”

Too many, huh?

“Not terribly. Just a responsibility you’ve got to deal with, too, I guess.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter mentioned that he’s not surprised that either you or RB Matt Breida are doing well this season. Do you remember talking to him before the draft? Did you talk to Tampa?

“I personally don’t. But, obviously coach [Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd] Monken, I played under him. So, I’m sure they’ve had some discussions. But, honestly, I don’t.”

When you watch the Bucs defense on film, do you see, they only have one interception. So, from a quarterback’s point of view, do you see holes in that defense that you can exploit?

“You really just have to relax and prepare. They have some good corners. Obviously, [CB Brent] Grimes is a very experienced guy. He’s very quick on his feet, and they have some good interior players. Definitely can’t underestimate them. I’m definitely in no position to underestimate them. They’re a great defense.”

Were you surprised, given your connection with coach Monken, I don’t know if there was any contact before the draft. Did you think that might be a spot for you? Were you surprised when it wasn’t?

“I don’t know. I was just taking any opportunity I could get. I don’t evaluate it too much.”

Do you see the remaining part of the season as an important time to play your way into the team’s thoughts looking ahead to next season, as well, independent of QB Jimmy Garoppolo coming back healthy or whatever role might be available?

“Those thoughts, they can’t enter your head, and honestly they don’t matter. The only thing that matters right now is this practice coming up. If I do good at this practice, I guess I’ll leave a positive impression. So, that’s really the only thing that matters at this time.”

We already covered the headphones thing, but there was another George Kittle story which almost sounds like it had to be made up, where after a game you went back on the field and were running through the plays.

“Yeah, ask Kittle about that one.”

You’re saying it may not have happened?

“I guess not, no.”

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