Former USM QB Nick Mullens could start for 49ers Thursday

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San Francisco 49ers quarterback CJ Beathard is struggling to hold a football. He’s currently listed as a game-time decision for tomorrow’s match-up against the Raiders, leaving Southern Miss alum Nick Mullens as the next in line for what could be his first career NFL start.

Having broken every major passing record as a four-year starter in Hattiesburg, Mullens know a thing or two about the big stage. But, USM’s all-time leading passer has never taken a regular season snap since joining the 49ers as an undrafted free agent in 2017.

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During the pre-season, Mullens was completing passes at a clip of more than 72 percent, but threw just one touchdown to three picks. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said, “Nick works his tail off whether he’s on practice squad all last year, some of this year since he’s been his No. 2. Nick is a very smart guy who works at it nonstop and he’ll be able to go in there and execute the offense and knows what he’s doing.”

Mullens said, “That’s the challenge of being a backup. You don’t get a lot of reps but you have to keep yourself mentally sharp throughout the week. So really just playing the game in my head, that’s kind of what I do. I go home, see what plays we have in for the week and just you’ve got to play the game in your head before it actually plays out and so that’s kind of what I’ve done each week. I grew up in the South, SEC country, played in Conference USA so I’ve been around football all my life. So just got to be able to adapt, and that’s kind of what I’ve done.”

Mullens also says breaking school records set by Brett Favre and Austin Davis was the foundation of him getting to this point.