Well, it’s time to move on from Week 4, officially. Nick “MVP” Mullens threw two interceptions, and C.J. Beathard almost engineered a miraculous comeback. Now that the 49ers are reeling from a loss that never should have happened, it is time to move on to the Dolphins.
Why the 49ers Will Win
George Kittle and Deebo Samuel are another week back from injury, and the 49ers offense is finally getting healthy. This also includes the news that Jimmy Garoppolo and Raheem Mostert may be able to come back to action Sunday. If there was ever a perfect time for the offense to get healthy, this is it.
Now, Kyle Shanahan is keeping things close to his vest about who will start at quarterback against the Dolphins. If Jimmy G can’t go, the smart bet is to play Nick Mullens again. Yes, he came back to Earth last week. Every quarterback has his bad games, and there is nothing to be gained from bouncing back and forth between him and Beathard.
(Editor’s Note: Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed to local media Friday afternoon that QB Jimmy Garoppolo will start on Sunday, after having gone through practice without issues.)
The key to this game is to not reinvent the wheel. Against the Eagles, the 49ers had 417 yards of offense. The turnovers are the issue that doomed them last week. The 49ers offense is well suited to beat this dolphins team. Samuel and Kittle will command a lot of coverage that allows Brandon Aiyuk and McKinnon/Mostert to work underneath.
The 49ers have a passing offense that is 12th in yards per game, and a rushing attack that is 11th in yards per game. Stats aren’t everything, of course, but doing this through injury is encouraging. The Dolphins defense has struggled mightily so far this season. They have not had much success stopping teams in either the run of pass game.
On defense, the key is going to be how the 49ers survive their depleted secondary. Jimmie Ward, Dontae Johnson, Emmanuel Moseley, and K’Waun Williams all are banged up at this point in the season. While the Dolphins may not be thought of as an offensive juggernaut, Ryan Fitzpatrick is always capable of going off. Throwing to weapons such as DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki, Fitzpatrick can easily do damage if the 49ers don’t have a solid plan.
Look for the 49ers to scheme up some blitzes to pressure Fitzpatrick. This would be the easiest way to help out a depleted secondary. Fitzpatrick absolutely must feel rushed and not be allowed to get into a rhythm. Force him to be the “bad Fitzpatrick” and the 49ers defense can walk out of this week with a win.
Why the Dolphins Will Win
Ryan Fitzpatrick. The man, the myth, the legend. If he is having one of his good games, there may be nothing the 49ers’ depleted defense can do. The Dolphins’ offensive line is arguably one of the top-10 pass blocking units in the league. Combine this with the Niners’ lack of a pass rush and it could spell disaster.
Fitzpatrick is currently the ninth-ranked quarterback by total QBR, so it stands to reason we are seeing the “good Fitzpatrick.” DeVante Parker has been Fitzpatrick’s main target once again this year, hauling in 69.8 yards per game, currently. With the current outlook in the 49ers’ secondary, I am not sure who will be out there to defend Parker.
While, overall, the Dolphins defense has not been performing well, they are fairly effective at getting to the quarterback. Their defensive line is ranked 13th in adjusted sack rate, and they currently have nine sacks through four weeks. If the Dolphins make life uncomfortable for whichever quarterback starts for the 49ers, it would go a long way to winning this game.
Last week, the Eagles got a ton of pressure on Mullens and Beathard. They came up with three sacks, but seemingly lived in the backfield all game long. While they still gained a lot of yards, we also know they had three turnovers.
The 49ers take this one away from the Dolphins. The game is much more of a shootout than anyone would have seen coming, with both defenses seemingly unable to buy a stop. The game ends on George Kittle throwing would-be tacklers every which way, as he rumbles to the end zone to give the 49ers a win by the score of 42-41.
(Featured Image Credit: 49ers.com)