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Joe Staley: 'Nick Mullens Was Ready for This Moment'

The San Francisco 49ers pulled off their largest margin of victory since 2013 in the 34-3 win over the Oakland Raiders on “Thursday Night Football." In his first career NFL start, Nick Mullens completed 72.7 percent of his passes for 262 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Mullens’ 151.9 passer rating is the highest by any player in his NFL debut since the 1970 NFL merger.

Here’s what the 49ers locker room had to say following the blowout victory over the Raiders.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan on Nick Mullens' performance against the Raiders:

“You never know until you see someone (do it). He didn’t surprise us in terms of, the game’s not too big for Nick. He’s very poised. He is always locked in. The guys, they respect him. He earned a lot of respect in the preseason, them watching him play. Both years, last year and this year. The way he handles himself in practice each week. He didn’t really know for sure whether he was going to start today, until today, and just the way he handled the two days of long walk-troughs and stuff. He’s a machine in there and I was happy for him.”

Shanahan on the final “Battle of the Bay”:

“I grew up a huge Niners fan. I also grew up a Raiders hater from growing up mainly in the AFC West also, and also having a history with them. It feels good definitely. It feels good to win, and I’m definitely happy for our fans.”

Shanahan on George Kittle’s growth in Year 2:

“He impressed me a lot last year. I think he’s only gotten better. You only get better or worse, and he’s a guy who’s gotten a lot better after playing at a pretty high-level last year. George, I think people underestimate or don’t talk enough about how good he is for us in the run game. He’s a very good run blocker. He’s a very physical player. I think everyone is starting to see how good he is in the pass game. What’s been the most impressive is, when you get the ball in his hands you guys can just see that he has a certain attitude to him that he’s trying to score every time he touches the ball, whether he’s 80 yards away or two yards away.”

Mullens on preparing for his first career NFL start:

“The feeling, obviously, knowing that you’re going to start puts some more emphasis on it I guess you guys could say. But, you know, my preparation stayed pretty consistent. Studied the plan. Always going to be ready when my name is called, and it was called. I just tried to do the best that I could. The team did the best that we could. We played great, sound football in all three phases of the game.”

Mullens on getting a phone call from Brett Favre post-game:

“It was pretty cool. Definitely an honor. It’s cool to see Southern Miss alumni stay in-tune with the program and support each other. So, I’m definitely appreciative of that, and definitely have the most respect for Brett.”

Mullens on being the last winning quarterback of the “Battle of the Bay” series:

“Yeah, that’s an incredible honor. I grew up watching the Niners, even from Alabama. It’s an incredible honor. I knew it was a big game for the people around this area, and I’m glad I can represent the Niners the right way. Glad we got a win, for sure.”

TE George Kittle on his on-handed 71-yard reception:

“I looked up at the screen and I think it was (Raiders CB Gareon Conley) 21 following me and I was like, ‘He’s faster than me so I just have to protect the ball.’ Coach Shanahan rewarded me like two plays later so that’s pretty fun.”

Kittle on Mullens performance:

“He’s a guy that is more prepared than coach Shanahan, I swear, for our games. It doesn’t matter if he’s second string, third string, he is a guy that prepares every week like he is the starter and the guy. That’s completely on him. That’s not anyone telling him he should study more, but that’s just him being 100 percent prepared.”

Kittle on what has clicked for him in Year 2:

“That’s on the whole team. Coach Shanahan puts me in positions to get open and he tells the quarterback to throw me the ball. He has the offensive line blocking for him the whole time which gives me time to run my route. Coach Shanahan gave me the opportunities, and I just have to make the most of them.”

CB Richard Sherman on what he saw from Mullens:

“I’m not surprised at all. It was cool that he didn’t change in the big lights under the circumstances. He gets out in practice and we will be in a walkthrough and obviously he is the scout team quarterback of the walkthrough and he will get upset when we pick the ball off. It’s like well this is a walkthrough and we are the starting defense so we are supposed to know the plays and pick the ball off. He is like, ‘I’m getting judged off these interceptions so no.’ He is trying to shred us in a walk-thru 7-on-7. He is a really competitive guy. He really cares and he is really about the details so obviously we are not surprised. We have seen him do it in practice. He plays with a lot of confidence even when he, is running other team’s plays. He is not like, ‘I’ll just throw it up and let the defense intercept it.' He is like, ‘No I’m going to find the hole and drill it in and make you guys feel like these plays are unstoppable.'”

C Weston Richburg on his quick chemistry with Mullens:

“He did a great job. I was very happy with how he came in. He came in all week super prepared. It was a short week but he was ready to go, and it showed for him.”

DL Cassius Marsh on the performance for the 49ers defense:

“We finished today. That’s what coach was talking about all week, just finishing. We had a great first half, but we came out in the second half and finished the game. I think that was the biggest part for us, and the biggest accomplishment for us tonight was to come out and finish the game.”

Marsh on his 2.5-sack performance:

“I just go out there and play as hard as I can. I didn’t really think about it. We were all just racing to the quarterback. I know (Ronald Blair III) Ronnie had two, (DeForest Buckner) DeFo had one early. Everyone was getting there. Dekoda (Watson) was wreaking havoc all night. The defensive line is always a group effort.”

T Joe Staley on Mullens' work ethic:

“Yes, for sure. He’s been working very, very hard for the last two years. Obviously, since he got here as an undrafted quarterback just trying to make the roster as a rookie, his work ethic has shown every single day since he’s been here. I knew, and everyone in this locker room knew, that he was ready for this moment because he prepared for it. Guys would feel differently if he acted different, but he’s been in here for the last two years, knew the offense, knew the game plan and was ready to take advantage of it.”

Staley on Mullens' confidence in the huddle:

“He was assertive. He was confident. He was exactly what you would want. He did well. I just reminded him during the game it’s just one play at a time. I think that first drive was really big for him just to get the momentum. We were moving the chains, we go down there and score on the first series. That was big for his confidence, and it went up from there.”

Staley on Mullens' ability to run the full breadth of the offense:

“It’s huge. All three guys have been here for two years – well Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t – but C.J. Beathard and Nick have been here for two years and completely understand this offense. Kyle's (Shanahan) offense is pretty complex, especially for quarterbacks. I think Nick will tell you it wasn’t flawless today. There were some communication issues and stuff that we can improve on, but overall it was an unbelievable job. I’m just really happy for him.”

RB Matt Breida on the message the team wanted to send on primetime:

“We wanted to come out and prove to everyone on national television that we are not a joke. It doesn’t matter what our record says, we are going to play hard every game.”

DL DeForest Buckner on the 49ers defense looking energized after a short week:

“Kyle (Shanahan) did a really good job of taking care of the team physically. He challenged us mentally all week. We had some long days. The guys stepped to the plate and took advantage of that week. We knew it was going to be a short week, but we didn’t want to make any excuses being sore because the Raiders had the same short week we had.”

Buckner on what clicked for the 49ers pass rush:

“I think guys were just going out there and feeding off each other. I think everyone was just energized. We came out with a lot of energy today. We had Dekoda (Watson) back, and he had some action today. It was fun just seeing him out there playing. He has been wanting to get out there all year. (Ronald Blair III) Ronnie had a couple, Cassius (Marsh) had a couple. Everyone was just feeding off each other and having fun out there.”

T Mike McGlinchey on what he saw from Mullens:

“Nick was awesome tonight. It was no surprise to any of us. He is a guy that comes into work every single day and takes a lot of pride in knowing his stuff and being one of the most prepared guys in our building. He has just been a guy that has been grinding and grinding quietly and waiting for his shot. He got it tonight and just ran with it, and I couldn’t be more proud of him and the way that he played.”

FB Kyle Juszczyk on how Mullens approached his first career start:

“He was phenomenal. From the first snap he took command of the huddle. I can’t tell you how many times that he told us to quiet down. It was impressive. He studied his butt off all week and he was prepared and ready to go. He went out there and executed and killed it.”

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