The 49ers might have an idea, but regardless of who starts under center in Week 3, San Francisco's players, coaching staff and the New York Giants are preparing for every possible option.
Jimmy Garoppolo continues to work his way back from a high ankle sprain suffered in the first quarter of the Week 2 win over the New York Jets. The quarterback played through his injury, finishing the first half of the contest while putting up strong numbers in the process.
Earlier this week, head coach Kyle Shanahan alluded to the potential of Garoppolo making an early return ahead of the 49ers second of a back-to-back at MetLife Stadium. Typically, an injury of this nature could take anywhere between four to six weeks to recover from. According to the head coach, the quarterback's injury appears to be on the less-severe side, opening up the door for Garoppolo to play against New York.
The team resumed practice on Wednesday with their starting quarterback not on hand. Although "pulling to do it," Shanahan said on Wednesday he'd be surprised if Garoppolo returns to practice leading up to Sunday. Backup quarterback Nick Mullens relieved Garoppolo in the second half of the Week 2 victory over the Jets, and is poised to be San Francisco's next man up if called upon.
"Nick's ready to go," Shanahan said on Wednesday. "Nick's had a lot of playing time with us. 2018 prepared him for moments like this. He always does a good job in practice. I'm excited to see him get his opportunity."
Giants head coach Joe Judge has history with Garoppolo that dates back to their time together with the New England Patriots. Judge served as an assistant coach while Garoppolo stood as Tom Brady's reserve from 2014-17.
Although Judge has an existing relationship with Garoppolo, he and his staff will be working overtime to gather footage on Mullens. With San Francisco's uncertainties heading into Sunday, Judge and Co. aren't overlooking any of the possibilities in Week 3.
"Mullens, one thing he does an extremely good job of is, you can spread the field out with him (but) he gets the ball out of his hand extremely fast," Judge said. "He's a tough gritty dude. He obviously had some success for them in the past when he's had to play. Whether it's Jimmy or Mullens, you have to have a little bit of a plan for both because what they may do may be dictated based on who's at the game. These are conversations that we're having with coaches, that we're putting a plan together for the players."
Mullens comes with a modest sample size of game tape after taking over for Garoppolo and fellow backup C.J. Beathard during the 2018 season. He closed out the year starting eight games while completing 64.2 percent of his passes for an efficient average of 8.3 yards per pass and a 90.8 passer rating.
"Nick's been great. When he got thrown in the fire, he played very well with little experience in practice because he didn't get a ton of reps in training camp," Shanahan added. "Our players believe in him and he'll be fine."
Left tackle Trent Williams, who will be responsible for protecting Mullens' blind side, already offered his vote of confidence in the backup quarterback. From his early impressions of the quarterback, who he likens to former Washington Football Team quarterback Kirk Cousins, Williams believes Mullens work ethic and preparation will bode well for San Francisco's offense should Garoppolo not be on hand on Sunday.
"I've built a good relationship with Nick in my short time here," Williams said. "To me, he's a serious guy. You see him walking around the building and you wouldn't know if he's the starter or third string because he prepares every week like he's the starting quarterback.
"There's not a lot of joking around. You can tell that he's serious about his craft. We're ready to go with him. We can win with him. He's a heck of a quarterback. Glad to have him as a backup, and we're ready to roll."
Should Mullens get the green light on Sunday, he will be making his first start in nearly 21 months. Despite the lull, it's a common theme that Mullens has the ability to help San Francisco win games, which will be relied upon on Sunday.