What a beautiful, all-around performance in all phases.
I predicted they would pull off the upset, and they made me look like Einstein, as the Miami Dolphins defeated the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 43-17. It was the most points an opposing team has scored in Levi’s Stadium since its doors opened in 2014.
Miami came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, scoring touchdowns on three of their first four drives, while the defense suffocated San Francisco all day, spoiling the return of 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo in the process.
We’ll dig in to the nitty-gritty later in the week, but for now, let’s review the rapid takeaways from Miami’s dominating display.
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Offensively, the Fins were extremely efficient, scoring on 10 of their 12 possessions.
“Fitzmagic” was in the air, as QB Ryan Fitzpatrick could seemingly do no wrong, completing 22-of-28 passes for 350 yards and three touchdowns.
With the 49ers depleted in the secondary, the back end of San Francisco’s defense was ripe for the picking. Fitz wasted nearly no time exploiting this, as he hit WR Preston Williams with a 47-yard strike on the second play of their opening series.
Fitz made a living off attacking the deep perimeter of the 49ers defense, specifically DB Brian Allen, who committed pass interference, giving Miami the ball at the goal line, allowing WR Devante Parker to score two plays later. That gave Miami a 21-7 lead that they would never relinquish.
The well never went dry for Miami, as several Dolphins receivers gashed the SF defense on receptions of 20+ yards or more, with the longest reception of the day coming courtesy of TE Mike Gesicki. Gesicki was left wide-open late in the second quarter and rumbled 70 yards down the field to set up the first of five Jason Sanders field goal conversions.
Fitz began his terrific performance with a bomb to Williams, so it was fitting that the big-bodied receiver was on the receiving end of a 32-yard beauty for a touchdown to hammer the nail in the coffin for the 49ers. Williams would finish leading the Fins in receiving with four receptions, 106 yards, and a touchdown.
Gaskin did not have a ton of room to operate but made the most of his touches, leading the Fins in rushing with 57 yards on 16 carries. Gaskin finished the day with 91 all -urpose yards (57 rushing, 34 receiving) and a touchdown on Miami’s second scoring drive.
Breida did not stuff the stat sheet by any means (9 rushes, 28 yards) but made his presence felt on a 31-yard reception that was influential in setting up Fitz’s final TD to Preston Williams. Breida has been a team-first guy all season, and I’m sure this win means a lot more, having come against his former team.
The Miami defense has taken some harsh criticism over the first portion of the season, but they aren’t going to give the media much to bash this week. Miami suffocated the 49ers offense, allowing just 259 yards while racking up five sacks and three turnovers.
San Francisco QB Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) returned to action after being absent for the last two weeks, and had a hard time knocking off the rust. Jimmy G would finish the game throwing 7-of-17 for 77 yards, no touchdowns, one fumble, and two interceptions in one half of play; his 15.7 QBR rating was the lowest of his professional career.
Garoppolo’s seven first-half drives netted one touchdown, three punts, a turnover-on-downs, and back-to-back interceptions to close the half. His atrocious performance forced the 49ers to insert QB C.J. Beathard into the game at the beginning of the third quarter.
Beathard didn’t fare much better, completing half his passes for 94 yards and a touchdown, and never putting any real pressure on the Fins defense or the outcome of the game. It took multiple Miami drive-extending penalties for the 49ers to get in position to put up points.
A big reason as to why both 49er quarterbacks had trouble, was the ineffectiveness of star TE George Kittle. The 49ers passing game largely, in part, goes through Kittle, and Miami succeeded in limiting his production as he finished with just four receptions for 44 yards on eight targets. Kittle’s 44 receiving yards matched rookie WR Brandon Aiyuk (three receptions, 44 yards) for most on the team.
The 49ers did, however, have some success on the ground, accruing 131 rushing yards and averaging 6.9 YPC. Defending the run has been an issue all year, and the total likely would have been worse had the game script called for more rushing attempts.
The 49ers welcomed the return of RB Raheem Mostert, who accounted for 91 of the teams rushing yards for a ridiculous 8.8 YPC. Mostert and the rest of the 49ers’ backs were able to reach the second level of the Miami defense too often before being touched.
While the 49ers’ bread-and-butter is running the football, their success should not come as a surprise, but Miami must make an emphasis on stopping the run moving forward.
What a great day to be a Dolphins fan! Miami outplayed and out-coached the 49ers in every sense of the word.
This performance is a huge step in the right direction for a team learning how to win, and the culture change under head coach Brian Flores is starting to take shape. It was awesome to see Miami not rest on their laurels during the game, never backing off on either side of the ball when the score was out of reach.
The Fins will enjoy the long trek back to South Beach, as they should after a much-deserved win. Next week, Miami will play host to the divisional rival New York Jets, while the 49ers have a home date with the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday Night Football.
(Featured Image Credit: Miami Dolphins)