Former USM standout Mullens to start for 49ers Sunday

Former USM standout Mullens to start for 49ers Sunday
Former University of Southern Mississippi standout quarterback Nick Mullens will make Sunday his first National Football League start since 2018 in place of injured San Francisco 49ers starter Jimmy Garoppolo. (Source: ESPN)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (AP) - Former University of Southern Mississippi standout Nick Mullens will start at quarterback Sunday for the San Francisco 49ers in place of injured starter Jimmy Garoppolo.

Garoppolo didn’t practice all week because of a high ankle sprain suffered last week but wasn’t officially ruled out for this week’s game against the New York Giants until Friday.

Garoppolo suffered in the first quarter of the 49ers win over the New York Jets, but stayed in the game until halftime. Mullens took over in the second half.

San Francisco Coach Kyle Shanahan also said Friday that All-Pro tight end George Kittle will miss a second straight game after spraining his knee in the season opener. Kittle practiced on a limited basis this week but wasn’t healthy enough to go.

“I thought it was a lot safer to leave him out,” Shanahan said. “We didn’t need to wait another day because of how he sounded today.”

The 49ers will be without injured running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman, linebacker Dre Greenlaw (quadriceps) and edge rusher Dee Ford (back).

Defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas were placed on injured reserve this week with season-ending knee injuries.

Garoppolo’s injury sets the stage for Mullens to make his first start for the 49ers in nearly 21 months.

A former undrafted free agent, Mullens showed flashes during an eight-game stint at the end of the 2018 season after Garoppolo was sidelined with a season-ending knee injury.

Mullens won three of his eight starts for a struggling Niners team that season, completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 284.6 yards passing per game. He finished with 13 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 90.8 passer rating

His 8.2 yards-per-attempt rank fourth best among the 50 quarterbacks with at least five starts the past three seasons.

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