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Golden Nuggets: Dolphins HC Brian Flores explains why it’s tough to stop the 49ers on offense

Your daily San Francisco 49ers links for Saturday, October 10, 2020

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Los Angeles Rams v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

It wouldn’t be right if we didn’t have a player go out of his way to go out Grant Cohn:

That came after this article:

Arik Armstead is the Main Reason the 49ers Can’t Contain Mobile Quarterbacks

Arik Armstead is a gift and curse to the 49ers.

He’s an excellent athlete who plays extremely hard. Has nine quarterback hits through four games — that’s excellent.

But the 49ers don’t always need Armstead to disrupt the quarterback. Sometimes they just need him to play his position correctly. And he doesn’t always do that, especially when he plays defensive end and faces a mobile quarterback, as he did Sunday night when the 49ers lost 25-20 to Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Mostly they lost to Wentz, one guy, because Armstead continuously let him escape the pocket.

Here’s the evidence.

Remember Bill Walsh’s sarcastic pep talk before 49ers-Dolphins Super Bowl XIX?

In the lead-up to the Super Bowl, Walsh was interviewed by CBS sports director Wayne Walker. He was effusive in his praise for Miami’s defense, its wide receivers (“the receivers are exceptional football players”), and especially its quarterback. “Marino is throwing the ball in an amazing fashion,” he said. “... He’s got the quick, strong arm, and he doesn’t have to get his feet just right to throw it. He can just whip the ball to anyone without really indicating where it’s going.”

Then came game day, Jan. 20. Pro Bowl safety Dwight Hicks still remembers exactly what Walsh told his team. As he recounted to the NFL Network:

“I can remember Walsh lying down in the middle of the floor, and he just started rumbling on and on about Miami — oh, they have such a great offense! Oh my God! How are we going to stop them? Jeez, their defense... how are we going to be able to get a first down? Or even a yard? He just wanted to light that fire before we came out of the locker room.”

Walsh finished his speech, turned to Hicks and asked, “Don’t you just want to break the wall and go kick their ass right now?”

Jimmy Garoppolo to start for San Francisco 49ers on Sunday

Entering the week, Shanahan expressed optimism that Garoppolo would be ready to play this weekend but wanted to see whether he could handle a week of practice without soreness or a setback. Garoppolo did just that, practicing on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday and in full Friday. He is not listed on Friday’s injury report.

“I got the last couple weeks off to get it right,” Garoppolo said Friday. “As far as getting out there, I had the whole week to work on it, so it’s feeling pretty good right now.”

Garoppolo’s return comes at an important time for the Niners, who are coming off a disappointing loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and need a win against the Dolphins before entering a difficult stretch in which they play the Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints in consecutive weeks.

How Dolphins plan to limit, not stop, Kittle in Week 5

“I don’t think you stop him, I think you just try to limit him,” Flores said. “I think you try to give him different looks, play zone, play some man. I think when you have a player like this you got to think about doubling.”

“[Kittle’s] as physical as they get, he’s explosive,” Flores said. “They’ve got a lot of other players, so you double him, you got to deal with Aiyuk, with Deebo and you got to deal with Bourne and the backs. You can’t double everybody, so you got to pick your spots.”

“You can double me and you can hold me to a couple catches and some yards, and that is what it is but I’m still going to impact the game in the run game,” Kittle said on Thursday. “I’m excited to see each week how defenses game plan for us and how we game plan for them.

“Looking forward to this weekend too because I really like the game plan and I’m excited to run the ball a little bit.”

Book excerpt: Justin Smith lights the 49ers’ torch (in Joe Staley’s backyard)

“I mean, you could imagine a young guy coming home and finding his new furniture burnt like that,” Justin Smith said. “That stuff gets to you when you’re young like that, for sure. When I was younger, they used to mess with me for damn sure. You used to have to bring food in every Friday. It wasn’t like it is now. There wasn’t always constant food and chefs like they have now. So you had to constantly bring food in, take the guys out to eat every Friday night — if you were a rookie — at a steakhouse.”

Since the bonfire was all Justin Smith’s idea, Staley eventually worked up the nerve and confronted the veteran defensive lineman and told him he owed him for the furniture.

“And Justin’s like, ‘All right. Whatever.’ And he wrote him a check for like a thousand bucks,” offensive lineman Daniel Kilgore said. “Well, that furniture was like 12 grand. And Joe never had the nerve to say anything about it.”

Justin Smith recalled that Staley approached him.

“Oh yeah, he was kind of worried about it,” Smith said. “But I was just laughing about it. So I gave him a check for whatever he wanted. It toughened him up. He went on a hell of a run. I’ll take some pride in that. I paid Joe for those things. Don’t let him say I didn’t.”

Miami Dolphins vs. San Francisco 49ers Prediction and Preview

1. Can Miami’s offense break through?

Miami hasn’t exactly been prolific on offense so far in 2020, but in the Dolphins’ lone win one key element stands out: the run game. Against Jacksonville on Sept. 24, Miami rushed for 138 yards — not a staggering number by any means, but the team’s high mark for this season. In their three losses, only once have the Dolphins surpassed 100 yards (103 last week vs. Seattle) and are averaging 96.3 yards on the ground in those other three games.

That may be key against a 49ers defense that has had quite a bit of success to start the season. San Francisco has done well to keep teams out of the end zone, limiting its four opponents to 17.8 points per game this season, third-best in the NFL and best in the NFC. However, while the 49ers also are allowing the third-fewest total yards in the NFL (an NFC-low 294.8 per game), and they sit more in the middle of the pack when it comes to rushing yardage. Their 110.8 yards per game allowed is still a top-15 performance but a far cry from their NFC-leading marks.

Prediction: 49ers 24, Dolphins 20