Earlier this week, I exchanged some questions with Kevin Nogle from The Phinsider to get us ready for 49ers-Dolphins this Sunday. I decided to split up the answers into different categories. The first three questions are about the Dolphins offense. The Dolphins defense has been a bit more consistent than their offense, but behind Ryan Tannehill, Miami is looking to build toward something.
You can check out my answers to Kevin's questions over at The Phinsider.
Niners Nation: The big news seems to be the loss of Jake Long. I've heard he has been struggling this year. What does this loss mean and how will he be replaced in the lineup?
The Phinsider: The loss of Long will be felt for the Dolphins, if only because Long not playing up to his normal level is still better than a lot of other left tackles out there. With him on IR, the Dolphins will move rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin over to left tackle. Martin played left tackle all through college, so the basic skills are there, but he's going to be tested this week against Aldon Smith. The good news is Martin has worked all year, in practice and in time after practice, with Cameron Wake to get better, so hopefully that will at least give him some chance against Smith. At right tackle, the Dolphins will most likely go with Nate Garner, who is essentially the utility guy for the team, playing tackle or guard as needed. Garner filled in last week, but struggled to find consistency. Hopefully a week of practice reps help that.
The team could also look at John Jerry, who has started at right guard all year, to move to right tackle. Jerry has played some tackle during his career, so it's possible, but I doubt the team wants to move him out of a right guard position that has seen him play well this year. The Dolphins also have Will Yeatman, who was a tight end last year that they moved to tackle this year. He has not been active this year, but he could be an option on the line this week.
NN: Ryan Tannehill seems to be showing some signs, but is dealing with the usual rookie rookie inconsistencies. What has his rookie year been like and what can the 49ers expect to see him do this Sunday (not statistically, just scouting report-wise)?
The Phinsider: Tannehill has looked good this season, and is starting to raise hopes that he really is the answer to the Dolphins' quarterback problem of the past decade. He is quick to learn from his mistakes, and he rarely makes the same one twice. He will try to force a pass every now and then, but, usually he is accurate and poised. He does not get rattled by pressure very often, and, now that his knee has healed from the bone bruise he suffered in the second New York Jets game, he is back to running as well. The Dolphins are using the no huddle more than any team in the league, letting Tannehill have time to get to the line and scan the defense. He is not afraid of audibles, and, as the season has gone on, he has done a better and better job of adjusting the play.
Tannehill's stats this year are a little misleading, because the team has tried to run the ball more than throw in some games, and his issues in the Houston Texans game back in Week 1, including three interceptions, still skew the stats. He's not perfect, but he is doing well, and should be ready to go against the 49ers. Plus, he'll actually be the more experienced quarterback in the game.
NN: Daniel Thomas seemed to be emerging into a platoon with Reggie Bush, but his carries have dropped the last two weeks. What is the game-plan with your running game?
The Phinsider: Great question, with a hard answer. I think the best way to explain it is, the team goes with the hot hand. But, there are games where it almost seems like they will force the ball to one running back until he starts producing. It's a little strange. I think part of it may have been trying to give Bush a mini-break during the season, so they went to Thomas more. Both runners are getting snaps, and both can do a decent job of running the ball. However, if the Dolphins are going to have success, I think it has to be with the ball in Bush's hands.