From two-star to “Mullens Mania”: the story of San Francisco quarterback Nick Mullens


Have you ever felt like you’re not good enough? That you don’t have enough talent? That others have all of the advantages?

What follows is a true story that will encourage you to keep your wits and never lose hope.


Chad Kelly had it all, good looks, athletic body, pedigree, and the best training in the world.

In his youth, he received great attention, not just because he was a premier prospect, but also because he was the nephew of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly.

After winning four straight Pass, Punt, and Kick national championships, Chad was declared a “can’t miss” prospect and one who would likely be in the Hall of Fame himself.

But Chad Kelly had a problem.

He believed it.

In fact, he proclaimed it.

He believed it so much that he cherished his nickname— “Swag”.

Despite the accomplishments of such stars as Deshaun Watson (Clemson), Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma), and J.T. Barrett (Ohio State), Kelly used the 2016 SEC media days to proclaim himself as the best quarterback in America and someday, the best quarterback who ever lived.

The NFL didn’t agree.

Chad Kelly was the very last player chosen in the 2017 draft and probably wouldn’t have been that if Uncle Jim hadn’t put in a good word with the Denver Broncos and his long time buddy John Elway.

Too much ego can land you in trouble. It started early for Kelly. After being dismissed from his first high school team for confronting coaches, he was later dismissed from his first college team (Clemson) for the same reason.

Along the way he had skirmishes with the law for harassing patrons at a restaurant, resisting arrest, threatening to blow away cops with an AK-47, chasing opponents of his brother’s high school team, and a very strange trespassing charge in Denver that, days later, led to yet another dismissal from a team.

And now, where will Chad Kelly go? Just this month he was cut by the Indianapolis Colts.

In San Francisco, there is a quarterback with a different story.

Although he was a college quarterback in the same state of Mississippi, Nick Mullens is not related to any hall of fame athletes. He was a two-star quarterback in high school and his best offer wasn’t from Power Five powerhouses but rather from Southern Mississippi which had gone a perfect 0-12 the previous season.

Mullens arrived on campus without the swag or fanfare of Chad Kelly, but also without Kelly’s problematic history.

He didn’t herald himself as the savior of the Golden Eagle program and that was a good thing because he also didn’t win the starting position.

But after six more losses, coach Todd Monken figured things couldn’t get any worse so he put Mullens in the lineup.

Nick never left.

In the following three and a half years, Nick Mullens set nearly every passing record possible and he wiped clean the impressive accomplishments of former Golden Eagle great, Brett Favre.

Despite all of that, Mullens wasn’t drafted by any NFL team.  It was only because the San Francisco 49’ers were thin at his position that he even got a workout.  

Nick did well enough that he made it to training camp.  Then he was cut. Then he was placed on the practice squad, then back onto the active roster for the 2018 season before being put on waivers.

He was reinstated after injuries took their toll on 49’er quarterbacks, and that is how Nick Mullens became the starter. 

In his first game, he produced a passer rating of 151.9 and became the first player in team history to throw three touchdowns in his first game.  It was the start of fans chanting “Mullens Mania” and producing caps with that  logo.

Not bad for a former two-star.

But make no mistake, Mullens was only the starter by default.  Once Garoppolo returned to the lineup, Mullens returned to the bench.  In the few opportunities he’s had since, Mullens has played well, but not often.

However, just this week, coach Kyle Shanahan named Mullens the starter after Garoppolo went down with yet another injury. 

So in the month of September, Chad “Swag” Kelly was dropped by the Indianapolis Colts and no team has taken up with him in three weeks. 

At the same time, in the month of September, no-nickname Nick Mullens was named the starter for the San Francisco 49’ers.

Chad Kelly will tell you how good he is. 

Nick Mullens will show you.

If you feel like a two-star in a four-star world, then follow the example that Nick Mullens has given us.  Work hard,  treat people right, and don’t give up. 

If you are patient and if you are are humble, in time you will see the arrogant tumble.  


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