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Super Bowl 54: Chiefs, 49ers feature several former Dolphins players, coaches

Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon to advance to Super Bowl LIV in Miami as the AFC Champions. Later in the night, the San Francisco 49ers came away with the win over the Green Bay Packers to clinch the NFC Championship and their own spot in the Super Bowl. While the Miami Dolphins were never in a position for the playoffs this year, there are plenty of former Dolphins coming back to Miami in two weeks.

The Chiefs offense features running back Damien Williams, who carried the ball 17 times for 45 yards and a touchdown along with five receptions for 44 yards on Sunday. Williams began his NFL career with the Dolphins in 2014, signing as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma. This season was his busiest as a professional, carrying the ball 111 times for 498 yards (4.5 yards per attempt) with five touchdowns. In his four seasons with Miami, he rushed 133 times for 477 yards (3.6 yards per attempt) with three touchdowns. He also played the 2018 season with Kansas City, carrying 50 times for 246 yards (5.1 yards per attempt) with four touchdowns.

The Chiefs also return two former Dolphins quarterbacks to Miami, with Chad Henne and Matt Moore both on the roster. Henne was Miami’s second-round pick in 2008, playing four seasons with the Dolphins. He appeared in 36 games with 31 starts, throwing for 7,114 yards on a 60.7 percent completion rate with 31 touchdowns and 37 interceptions. The Dolphins were 13-18 in games with Henne as the starter. Henne spent five years with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2012 through 2017 before joining the Chiefs in 2018, appearing in one game, going 2-for-3 for 29 yards. This year, he spend the first part of the season on injured reserve before being activated in November.

Moore appeared to be retired from football after the 2017 season, missing all of 2018. He worked with the Dolphins as a scout during the draft and had take a role as an assistant high school coach before the Chiefs signed him following the injury to Henne. He appeared in six games, throwing for 659 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions on a 64.8 completion percentage. Moore’s time in Miami started in 2011, when he was signed to backup Henne. In seven years with the Dolphins, Moore threw for 4,298 yards with 29 touchdowns and 19 interceptions on a 60.7 percent completion.

Chiefs safety Jordan Lucas began his career with Miami as a 2016 sixth-round pick. In two seasons with the Dolphins, he spent time on the team’s practice squad while he also appeared in 19 games as a special teams player and reserve safety. He recorded eight tackles with the Dolphins. Miami traded Lucas to the Chiefs before the 2018 season, receiving and 2020 seventh-round pick in return. In two seasons with the Chiefs, Lucas has appeared in 30 games, recording 39 tackles with one sack, one interception, and three passes defensed.

Chris Lammons is on the Chiefs’ practice squad, joining them in December. He spent the 2018 season on Miami’s practice squad before playing 12 games in 2019 with the Dolphins. He recorded 13 tackles with an interception and three passes defensed this season before being waived in early December. He was released by Miami to make roster space for cornerback Linden Stephens, who the Dolphins poached off the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad.

Chiefs defensive backs/cornerbacks coach is former Dolphins cornerback Sam Madison. A 1997 second-round pick by Miami out of Louisville, Madison spent nine years with the Dolphins, appearing in four Pro Bowls, being selected as a First-Team All-Pro twice and a Second-Team All-Pro twice, and leading the NFL in interceptions in 1999. He had 353 tackles, 31 interceptions with two touchdowns, 100 passes defensed, 10 forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and one sack for Miami. He played the final three seasons of his career, from 2006 through 2008, with the New York Giants, winning Super Bowl XLII at the end of the 2007 season. This year was Madison’s first as a coach.

Dave Merritt, the Chiefs defensive backs coach, is in his first seasons with the Chiefs. He previously worked with the Arizona Cardinals for a year, after having spent 14 years with the New York Giants and three seasons with the New York Jets. Merritt was a seventh-round pick by the Dolphins in 1993 as a linebacker out of North Carolina State. He appeared in four games for Miami as a rookie, before joining the Cardinals, where he played the rest of the 1993 season, plus two more.

The 49ers, meanwhile, also have several former Dolphins on their roster, and even more on their coaching staff. Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell played three seasons in Miami from 2014 through 2016. He recorded 72 tackles and two sacks over that span, playing in 37 games. He played 2017 and 2018 for the 49ers before a training camp stint with the Seattle Seahawks in the summer of 2019. He announced his retirement this past November, but signed earlier this month with the 49ers for their playoff push.

Running back Raheem Mostert saw time in 2015 with four different clubs, beginning with his signing as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was among the final roster cuts for the Eagles, then re-joined the team as part of their practice squad. The Dolphins poached him from Philadelphia a week later, having him return kicks in one game. That October, Miami attempted to waive him and re-sign him to their practice squad, but the Baltimore Ravens claimed him off waivers. He appeared in seven games as a returner for Baltimore, who then waived him in December, again trying to place him on the practice squad. The Cleveland Browns claimed him instead, installing him as their kick returner for the last three games of the year. In 2016, he had a brief stint on the New York Jets practice squad before joining the Chicago Bears, first on the practice squad, then moving up the active roster. After being released by Chicago, he joined the 49ers, again starting as a practice squad player before moving to the active roster. He has spent four seasons with San Francisco, appearing in all 16 games in season for the first time this year. He has 178 career rushing attempts - all with the 49ers - for 1,069 yards and nine touchdowns.

The 49ers added defensive end Damontre Moore this season after playing with the San Diego Fleet of the Alliance of American Football. He was originally a third-round pick of the New York Giants in 2013, playing with the club until late in the 2015 season. The Dolphins claimed Moore off waivers in December of that year, then released him in the spring of 2016. He appeared in three games for the Dolphins, recording four tackles, a sack, and a pass defensed. After Miami, he spent time with the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks in 2016, the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, and the Oakland Raiders in 2018. He is currently on injured reserve.

Offensive tackle Jaryd Jones-Smith is on the 49ers’ practice squad after working as a left tackle with the Dolphins this past preseason. A 2018 undrafted free agent signing by the Houston Texans, Jones-Smith was released in roster cuts prior to the 2018 regular season, playing in the spring in 2019 as part of the Alliance of American Football with the San Antonio Commanders.

The coaching staff for the 49ers features several former Dolphins, including John Benton, Shane Day, Brian Fluery, Kris Kocurek, and Wes Welker. Benton, San Francisco's offensive line coach, held the same position with the Dolphins from 2014 through 2015. 49ers quarterbacks coach Day moved to San Francisco this year after spending three seasons with the Dolphins as the team’s tight ends coach. Defensive quality control coach Fleury worked for the Dolphins form 2016 through 2018, first as a football research analyst then as the director for football research. Kocurek, the 49ers’ defensive line coach, held the same position with the Dolphins in 2018.

Welker is in his third season as a coach, spending 2017 and 2018 with the Houston Texans as an offensive and special teams assistant before joining the 49ers as the team’s wide receivers coach. As a player, Welker initially entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent signed by the San Diego Chargers in 2004. He appeared in one game with the Chargers before being waived in hopes of adding him to the practice squad. Miami signed him as an free agent, using him primarily as s special teams player in 14 games in 2004. He continues with Miami in 2005 and 2006, playing in all 16 games both seasons, working both on special teams and as a receiver, catching 96 passes for 1,121 yards and one touchdown over those seasons. Welker was a restricted free agent after the 2006 season, with the New England Patriots believed to be interested in signing Welker to an offer sheet that included a poison pill in which the base salary would escalate if Welker played several games in Florida making Miami unable to match the offer. Instead, the Dolphins traded Welker to the Patriots for a second- and seventh-round draft pick, where he played six seasons. He then played two seasons with the Denver Broncos before one final season with the St. Louis Rams in 2015.

The 49ers also employ former Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster, who left Miami in 2017 after video surfaced of him snorting a white powder off his desk at the Dolphins’ training facilities. Foerster, who later admitted the powder was cocaine, resigned from the Dolphins and entered rehab for his issues. He claims he never worked under the influence, but said the video he shot was just before leaving Miami for the team’s game in London, with the intention to stay awake on the flight. The 49ers do not list Foerster on the team’s website, but he has a consultant role with the club, starting with a smaller role in 2018 and expanding his duties this year. “If he was fully on our coaching staff, going to practice and going to games, I understand that it’s something that I’d have to address, but he’s not,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports before the season. “He’s in a consulting role. A lot of teams have consultants. I understand the ramifications of that, and why people will ask why I didn’t say anything about it.”

Shanahan added, “He is still in a consulting role because I do understand the seriousness of this matter. We’re trying to ease him back in. I understand how big of a problem he did have. I also understand what he’s doing in committing to fix that problem. We’re trying to give him a chance to get back on track. I also understand that people make huge mistakes, and...he’s trying to make amends and he’s trying to make it right.”