The San Francisco 49ers have entered a dead period, with four weeks left until the team reports for training camp. Since we know the schedule, and most 90-man rosters are just about set, now seems like a good time to start previewing each of the 49ers opponents heading into training camp. With the help of the other 31 SB Nation blogs, we’ve come up with preview content breaking down where things stand for each team on a variety of issues. We’ve got a template looking at key additions and departures, big storylines and under-the-radar storylines heading into camp, and injuries to consider.
We’re going to run down the schedule, but I will be saving the divisional opponents for the end. We started with the Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals, and New England Patriots, and today we move on to the 49ers Week 12 opponent, the Miami Dolphins. The 49ers travel to Miami for the game, facing the Dolphins for the first time since beating them 27-13 in 2012 at Candlestick Park.
The Dolphins made some notable player acquisitions this offseason, but the big addition is head coach Adam Gase. He has been viewed as a potential next big thing among head coaches, and he finally gets his chance. It’s all the more interesting because he gets to work with Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins quarterback has done some good things but has work to do if he is going to reach his potential. Gase did solid work with Jay Cutler last season, and got to work extensively with Peyton Manning in Denver. Can he take all that and do something with Tannehill? That’s the big question.
Here is what our friends at The Phinsider had to say about their Miami Dolphins.
Notable free agent additions: Mario Williams, Andre Branch, Isa Abdul-Quddus
Notable free agent departures: Lamar Miller, Olivier Vernon, Derrick Shelby, Brent Grimes (cut), Louis Delmas, Rishard Matthews
Trades: Byron Maxwell (Eagles), Kiko Alonso (Eagles)
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:
1st Round: Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil - Expected to start at left guard and be the heir apparent for Branden Albert at left tackle.
2nd Round: Cornerback Xavien Howard - in a position battle with Tony Lippett for the second starting cornerback spot
3rd Round: Running back Kenyan Drake - expected to be the second-string running back and see carries in a platoon system with Jay Ajayi
3rd Round: Wide receiver Leonte Carroo - most likely the fourth wide receiver on the team, should see playing time but may be stuck behind Kenny Stills for the third WR spot
6th Round: Wide receiver Jakeem Grant - likely will be the primary kick returner, could see punt return duties as well, and will likely see some offensive plays to utilize his speed as a mismatch
Biggest offseason addition: Adam Gase, head coach - Miami fired Joe Philbin a quarter of the way into the 2015 season, then hired former Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase to be their head coach this year. Gase will look to bring the success he has had working with quarterbacks, including Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning, and Jay Cutler, to Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins have been in a decade of mediocrity, and it will now be Gase’s responsibility to finally end that.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp: Will Ryan Tannehill finally provide an answer to who he is as a quarterback? The team is giving him the freedom he did not have under Joe Philbin, they are reloading the offensive weapons with younger players who should fit the scheme well, and they are working to get the offensive line puzzle finally solved. This should be the year Tannehill can step up and prove he is a franchise quarterback.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: Can the defensive line pressure the quarterback? Cameron Wake, Mario Williams, Ndamukong Suh, Andre Branch. Each of those names comes with high expectations of success, either from past NFL experiences, or based on potential, and each of those names has question marks surrounding him. Wake is coming off an Achilles tear and is 34 years old. Williams had a miserable season last year with the Buffalo Bills, but was also playing out of position as a linebacker rather than a 4-3 defensive end. Suh played well last year, but many were frustrated that he was not the dominant player his contract seemed to suggest he would be for the Dolphins, and he did not make the Pro Bowl - a chip that is sure to be on his shoulder this year. Branch never materialized into the pass rusher the Jacksonville Jaguars hoped he would be, and now Miami will try to find that in him as a replacement for Derrick Shelby as the third defensive end. Everything in the offseason seems to say these pieces will come together and the Dolphins defensive line will be dominant - but they looked like that last year, and we have not seen them this year in pads.
Notable injuries heading into training camp: Cameron Wake (Achilles tear recovery); Kenyan Drake (hamstring strain); DeVante Parker (not disclosed); Mike Pouncey (offseason hip surgery recovery)