What a week for Nick Mullens.
He took his first snaps in an NFL regular-season game, and had a historic night with the highest passer rating from a quarterback with at least 16 attempts in his debut. Sure, it came against the Raiders, but, hey, who’s counting?
Mullens showed emotion on the field, as the 49ers snapped a six-game losing streak. He showed emotion during his post-game interview with Erin Andrews.
Here’s something else for him to get excited about: After getting the word he will start in Week 10 against the New York Giants, Mullens gets the honor of being atop the NFL Quarterback Power Rankings.
Here are our official rankings at the beginning of Week 10:
1. NICK MULLENS, 49ERS: C’mon! Of course! (Last week: C.J. Beathard, 30)
2. Drew Brees, New Orleans: As long as he keeps dialing up Michael Thomas, he’ll be fine. (4)
3. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City: The kid is not slowing down. (2)
4. Tom Brady, New England: The clear winner of the Battle of NorCal vs. Aaron Rodgers. (6)
5. Russell Wilson, Seattle: He has to come up huge in order for Seahawks to pull out a possible season-turning win in L.A. (3)
6. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay: The Pack are under .500 at the midway point, and Rodgers might face an uphill climb to get into the playoffs. (5)
7. Cam Newton, Carolina: Newton and Norv Turner are quite a team. (8)
8. Matt Ryan, Atlanta: He’s on pace with Matt Ryan, circa 2016. (9)
9. Philip Rivers, L.A. Chargers: He’s hoping, praying, he gets the same time to throw to wide-open receivers that Mullens enjoyed against the Raiders. (7)
10. Deshaun Watson, Houston: He’s thrown 36 TDs in his first 16 starts. The Texans are rolling. (1)
11. Jared Goff, L.A. Rams: There’s no shame to being outdueled by the master, Drew Brees, inside the Superdome. (10)
12. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia: As he returns from the bye week, the underperforming Eagles are still the team to beat in the NFC East. (11)
13. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis: The elbow is OK. (12)
14. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota: He’s on pace to shatter franchise record for passing yards, which is why they gave him the big bucks. (14)
15. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh: Tell Le’Veon Bell to stay away. The Steelers have turned it around. (15)
16. Matthew Stafford, Detroit: He was sacked 10 times, hit 17 times, and lived to tell about it. (13)
17. Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago: Don’t look now, but here he comes. (16)
18. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee: In 14 third-down opportunities, Mariota picked up 11 with his arm and legs. (23)
19. Dak Prescott, Dallas: We won’t know how good he can be until there’s a coaching change. (18)
20. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati: It’s the bye week, so he went to an island and worked on that tan. (19)
21. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay: This team is a mess. (Jameis Winston, 31)
22. Alex Smith, Washington: The stable leader of the NFL’s most thoroughly uninspiring division leader. (17)
23. DEREK CARR, RAIDERS: He looked beaten and defeated last Thursday against one of the league’s worst pass rushes. (21)
24. Joe Flacco, Baltimore: He’d rather just not throw a TD pass than throw one to Lamar Jackson. (20)
25. Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants: The nation awaits his Monday night show at Levi’s. (22)
26. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland: The Browns are better, but it’s a wasted rookie year with a complete overhaul coming after the season. (26)
27. Case Keenum, Denver: There’s just not a lot here. (24)
28. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville: For a change, there were no complaints about his performance. The bye week is great. (25)
29. Brock Osweiler, Miami: He’s keeping the seat warm for Ryan Tannehill. (29)
30. Josh Rosen, Arizona: He’s feeling lucky he did not have to match Mullens touchdown-for-touchdown in their two wins vs. the 49ers. (28)
31. Nathan Peterman, Buffalo: He’s thrown six TD passes in his career. Exactly half of those scores have gone to the other team. (32)
32. Sam Darnold, N.Y. Jets: It takes a lot to bump Peterman from the bottom spot. Darnold’s four picks is bad enough to do the trick. (27)
SANTA CLARA – When Nick Mullens stepped into the 49ers’ huddle in his NFL debut on Thursday night, he looked like a player who was calm, comfortable and completely in control.
And while that was mostly the case, it turns out he was at-times hearing a bothersome voice in his head during the 49ers’ 34-3 victory over the Raiders at Levi’s Stadium.
The helmets of NFL quarterbacks are equipped with a radio earpiece through which the voice of a coach on the sideline can be heard. The one-way transmission between plays lasts for 25 seconds. It automatically cuts off with 15 seconds remaining on the play clock.
Coach Kyle Shanahan often takes advantage of the allotted time to relay the play to the quarterback, then gives out other pertinent information, such as the expected defensive alignment and options to keep in mind as the play develops.
“Sometimes in the huddle, you hear the play call and you’re ready to repeat it and some, you know . . . So, yeah, I was just ready to call the play,” Mullens said.
It made for some light moments in the huddle, beginning on the opening drive, when Mullens was having difficulty communicating with his teammates while Shanahan was still talking to him.
“Coach Shanahan will talk in his ear while Nick is trying to call the play,” 49ers tight end George Kittle said. “Nick will be like, ‘Can you stop talking?’ Even though Shanahan can’t hear him. That’s really funny.”
Said running back Matt Breida, “There were a couple of times Kyle didn’t cut off his mic, and Nick was trying to tell him to be quiet so he could call the play. He didn’t let that fluster him. He kept on going and kept on playing.”
Mullens is known as a serious, hard-working player who showed up at the 49ers’ facility in a suit when he took a pre-draft visit to Santa Clara in the spring of 2017. But there was laughter in the huddle early in the game when he blurted out in Shanahan’s direction, “Can you just shut up!”
“It was so funny, because you don’t see that from Nick,” Kittle said. “He’s the most professional person. You’ll talk to him and he’s the stereotypical quarterback, A-B-C, and to see that in the huddle was really funny.”
Despite the sensory overload, Mullens said the information he receives in his coach is useful.
“You got to know what the defense is about to do, and coach Shanahan does a good job of anticipating that,” Mullens said. “The hints he gives me in the helmet definitely help.”
The comedy in the huddle seemed to have an unintended effect of loosening things up for everyone. Mullens put together a strong showing, completing 16 of 22 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns in his debut. The 49ers scored touchdown on their first two drives of the game.
“You got to have fun out there,” Breida said. “It’s football, and at the end of the day, you got to have fun. When you hear stuff like that in the huddle, it makes you chuckle. Then, you got to get back to the play.”
Mullens will have an opportunity to keep it rolling in another prime-time game. Shanahan informed him Tuesday that he will remain in the starting lineup Monday night against the New York Giants.
“The best part about football is competing with your teammates,” Mullens said. “And I think if you watch the film, all of us had fun playing together and that’s what it’s all about.”
The 49ers were one of numerous NFL teams to show serious interest in pass rusher Bruce Irvin, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday morning.
Irvin, whom the Raiders released this week, signed a one-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday. The 49ers made a “hard run” at Irvin after he cleared waivers and was free to sign with any team, according to the source.
Irvin, 31, recorded three sacks through eight games with the Raiders this season. After he was waived Monday, approximately 10 mostly playoff-contending teams showed interest in signing Irvin, the source said.
Irvin has 40 sacks in his seven-year NFL career, which began with four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. Robert Saleh, the 49ers’ defensive coordinator, was on the Seahawks’ defensive coaching staff during the first two seasons of Irvin’s career.
The 49ers likely will have another chance to sign Irvin, who is scheduled for unrestricted free agency in March.
Any team could have claimed Irvin off waivers this week and picked up the terms of the contract he signed with the Raiders as a free agent in 2016. He was scheduled to earn $4 million for the rest of this season and $9.25 million in 2019.