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49ers defeat Dolphins 27-13 behind solid rushing effort

We break down the 49ers 27-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers improved to 9-3-1 on Sunday as they defeated the Miami Dolphins 27-13. It was not a pretty game at times, but the 49ers took care of business and got a much-needed win. They remain 1 1/2 games ahead of the Seattle Seahawks, and they sit waiting to see how the Packers do on Sunday Night Football. A Packers loss would give the 49ers a game and a half lead in the battle for a first round bye.

There was no single "star" of the game, but LaMichael James deserves all sorts of kudos. He finished with 45 rushing/receiving yards and 79 kick return yards, but his impact was distinctly felt. The rookie running back made the most of his first opportunity as he provided a spark that was clearly missing last week in Kendall Hunter's absence. It is safe to say James will be active next week.

Greg Roman indicated the team might cut back on Frank Gore's workload a bit, and it was very clear that was happening today. Gore rushed 12 times for 63 yards, but also made the most of his touches. He tied Joe Perry and Roger Craig with his 50th career rushing touchdown, and he surpassed 1,000 yards for the sixth time in his career.

Colin Kaepernick put together a solid performance, although there remain areas for improvement. He had what is turning into a weekly highlight reel play when he closed out the game with a 50-yard touchdown run. He has to work on his touch, but on plays where a strong throw was needed, he showed what he can bring to the table. The key is just better figuring out when to take a little more off the pass.

The 49ers defense had their moments as well. They played bend but don't break at times, but they did avoid breaking for the most part. Aldon Smith added two more sacks to set the 49ers franchise single season sack record. He continues to bear down on Michael Strahan's single season sack record, trailing by 3.5 sacks with three games remaining. Oh, and one of those games is at home against the Arizona Cardinals.

The 49ers face a monstrous test next week as they travel to Foxboro to face the New England Patriots. I'd really hope this game was more a case of looking ahead to New England, and we see a bigger performance next week. It's a huge road game, particularly with the Seattle Seahawks staying hot on the 49ers back.