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The Dolphins Look to Turn Down the Heat Against 49ers

The Miami Dolphins are essentially a crew that just pulled off a bank heist. They did something that’s drawing attention to themselves in a way that they would like not to happen(not starting Tua after a 1-3 start with Fitzpatrick not playing that well) and are held up in a safe house or on the run. All they want to do is to reenter themselves into society without anyone looking or asking questions of them. The best way to do that is to travel west and go about business as usual. The best thing to do is head out to San Francisco and beat the 49ers. Then, the Tua questions will subside, for about a week or so. The Miami Dolphins may as well be the Ex-Presidents.

One thing that will help the Dolphins get everyone off their case is the return of Byron Jones. As The Phinsider’s @HeirJustin wrote in his breakdown of Thursday’s injury report, Miami’s highest-paid player, Byron Jones, participated in his first practice in weeks.

Per Thursday’s injury report, Jones, the highest paid player on Miami’s roster, got in his first full session of practice since injuring his groin against the Buffalo Bills back in Week 2.

His return would be great news for a secondary that has been torched in two of their past three games. The 49ers have an interesting bunch of receivers. Deeboo Samuel is their best wide receiver. Rookie Brandon Aiyuk, the guy who made the run and hurdle against the Eagles on Sunday Night Football, is a bit of an unknown. The Dolphins have a track record of making unknown guys known, so it will be nice if they can keep him in check.

Of course, you cannot talk about the 49er pass-catchers without focusing on George Kittle. Kittle is a beast and is very difficult to contain. I saw some stat (yes I tried finding it but could not) that said Kittle has somewhere around the 6th best stats of TEs this year. That’s wild because he only played in two games. Tight ends, throughout my whole Dolphin’s fandom life, has been a position that Miami never can seem to cover. So far, the Dolphins have done pretty well against tight ends this season:

George Kittle is much better than any tight end that the Dolphins have faced, but I do have some confidence that Miami can limit him just a bit. Not fully, just not a classic George Kittle destroying everyone kind of game. Eric Rowe, who has been playing quite well this season will have his toughest test on Sunday.

According to NinersNation, Jimmy G and Raheem Mostert are looking like they will be good to go on Sunday.

For the second day in a row, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Raheem Mostert practiced. The beat writers who attended practice all said both players didn’t look hobbled and were moving around well during individual drills, which is fantastic.

Would have been nice to go up against Mullens or Beathard, but I think we all knew we would be seeing Little Jimmy G out there.

With the 49ers offense, you have to expect the unexpected. They will run reverses, running plays that no one has ever seen before, and will motion you until your brain explodes. They will also run play action often. I am deeply afraid of play-action from any team. But, the 49ers are terrific at it and it is when Jimmy G is at his best. I can picture a play-action pass and a crossing route by Deeboo where he’s wide open. Frightening.

Miami needs to get pressure on the quarterback. I realize that is Football 101, but it needs to happen because I do not think Baker, Roberts, or Danell Ellerbe Van Noy can keep up with the crossing routes. I have not seen what the Dolphins secondary, with Jones playing, can do against crossing routes so I guess the jury is out on them as a whole. Howard and Iggy need to majorly step up their game.

This does not help the lack of pressure on the quarterback situation.

Enter Zack Sieler.

Not that Bold of a Prediction: Kyle Juszczyk gets weirdly wide open past a corner and makes a huge play. Hope not, but I have a feeling about it.

If Bodhi, I mean Ryan Fitzpatrick, has any interest in keeping his job, he needs to perform better. Do not let his 300-yard game last week fool you. He missed open receivers all over the place. Do not believe me? I highly recommend you check out @Houtz Twitter page and look at his all 22 break down. You will see all the times Fitzpatrick did not see wide open guys down the field. When the clock strikes 4:05 on Sunday, Fitzpatrick should be saying...

There’s a good chance that Fitzpatrick will be without ascending rookie left tackle, Austin Jackson.

Not what the Dolphins need right now. It’s one of the reasons I think Flores is not starting Tua this game. I wrote yesterday, read it here, that not having your starting left tackle against a tough 49ers defense is not the ideal spot to insert the most important player in the franchise for the first time. Hopefully, Julien Davenport does his job and it won’t be an issue.

UPDATE: Well, this blows.

Maybe it will be Jesse Davis moving to LT. Perhaps it will be Robert Hunt making his first start. It will probably be Julien Davenport.

Hopefully, the Dolphins try to do something different with the running game. I want a complete role reversal between Gaskin and Breida. Give Breida the 12-16 touch role and Gaskin the 5 touch role a game. Just see what happens. We know Breida can make plays in open space much more than Gaskin could. Give it a try.

I also wrote this week that Chan Gailey and his very modern offense need to figure out ways to get the ball to Gesicki and Williams more. You’re a professional offensive coordinator. You have massive individuals to throw the ball to. Use their size to your advantage. I don’t want to hear that Gesicki is double-teamed so it can’t be done. Guess what? George Kittle is leaps and bounds better than Gesicki and somehow, with Nick Mullens and Cody Beathard, they were still able to get him 15 catches on Sunday night. And they were able to do that without a DeVante Parker on the outside.

I still fear the 49ers’ defense. I know they don’t have Nick Bosa or DeForest Buckner, but they still give me the feeling that they can out physical anybody.

Dig slightly deeper and you’ll find that the 49ers have had a pretty soft schedule so far. They’re 2-2 with their only two wins being against the gross New York teams and their losses are against the Cardinals and Eagles. They appear like an average team. They very well may be that. But, with the return of several key players, I still believe they are a quality team that still has a lot of DNA from the Super Bowl team.

Prediction

Last week I said the Dolphins were playing in a defining game but if they lost it was still possible that they could go on a run and be in the hunt, where they permanently reside, for the newly added 7th playoff seed. I still believe that can happen. The Dolphins play the 49ers, Broncos, and Chargers the next three weeks. Is it impossible to think that Miami could be 4-4 in three weeks? Not at all.

But right now Miami is an afterthought in every way except one. They have a polarizing rookie quarterback on the bench that everyone in the world wants to see who is sitting behind a guy that is playing average. That’s why, for the moment, anybody cares about this team besides the tortured Dolphin’s fans that myself and you are. That’s the reality of the situation.

But, you go out and win three in a row, and the perception changes a little bit. Everyone starts thinking that this team is getting better, taking it one game at a time, and aren’t focusing on who’s playing quarterback. The heat would be off and the Dolphins are just walking around, blending in with the commoners.

I don’t see that happening quite like that, unfortunately. I think Miami, just like every game so far this year, stay in it for a while. They might even have a lead in the 4th quarter. But in the end, they don’t close the door and kick to many FGs. The team that knows how to finish, wins it.

49ers 28 Dolphins 24

Enjoy your Friday, which doesn’t feel like a Friday, and the rest of your weekend. A new era in Miami football is upon us regardless of what Johnny Utah, I mean Brian Flores wants to do or not.

Follow me @2ndSatSports