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Five questions with The Phinsider: Another upset loss at home for the 49ers?

We covered Breida, where the Dolphins have the advantage, Tua, and why they believe Miami would win Sunday afternoon

Miami Dolphins v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

From our friends over at The Phinsider, Kevin Nogle was kind enough to take the time to answer five questions ahead of Sunday’s matchup between the 49ers and the Dolphins. Kevin is thinking, upset!

The Dolphins’ defense is near the bottom in many statistical categories. I know they’ve been without Byron Jones and have also played some quality offenses, but what has been the reason for the Dolphins struggles on defense this season?

Communication? It has been odd. The secondary should be the strength of the Dolphins’ defense but has been a huge disappointment so far this year. Losing Jones for the last several weeks has hurt a lot, but it should not be the sole reason for the problems Miami’s defense has had. They need to communicate better. It really is that simple. Noah Igbinoghene was impressive in training camp this year, but he is definitely still a rookie out there, and he is playing like a rookie. Once Jones is back to 100 percent, I would expect to see Igbinoghene’s playing time take a drastic cut.

Of course, Jones and the secondary problems do not solve the issues Miami has stopping the run this year. A large part of that has been dealing with Cam Newton and Josh Allen running all over the place, but the linebackers could use a run-stuffer (kind of like Raekwon McMillan, who the team traded to the Las Vegas Raiders this year) to get after the issue. They seem to be getting better, but it is still a large area of concern.

At what point do you think we’ll see Tua start this year, and how antsy are Miami fans to see him under center?

Before the season, a large portion of the fan base supported the idea of giving him a red-shirt season this year, then start him next year. As the season has moved through the first quarter of the year and Miami’s 1-3, there is a growing question of whether Miami should go ahead and move to him now, taking the losses with a rookie quarterback rather than with a solid, but not great, veteran. I think it is premature to make a move this year, especially given Miami’s losses have been by an average of a touchdown to the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, and Seattle Seahawks, but I do think the move happens at some point this year.

I have always thought Week 12 makes the most sense. Miami has an oddity in the schedule where they host the New York Jets in Week 10, then have a Week 11 bye, then visit the Jets. Making the switch to Tagovailoa between to two Jets games would let the team have multiple weeks to focus on the change, without needing to work on film/scheme as much because it is the same team twice in a row. Plus, the Jets are not exactly setting the world on fire, so it could be a good team against whom to give a rookie experience.

We’re big Matt Breida fans here. Every time I’ve seen him this season, Cheetah seems to do something positive. Will Breida has a bigger role as the season goes on, and how has he played through four games?

The running backs caught everyone off guard this year. Jordan Howard is listed as the starter, with Breida the second string and Myles Gaskin third. Gaskin has been the lead back, however, and he has been playing well. Gaskin has 48 carries for 192 yards, while Breida has 18 carries for 72 yards, and Howard has 18 carries for just 14 yards, but he also has three rushing touchdowns. Gaskin is the “feature” back, which is a surprise.

Breida has looked good, and he is starting to see more playing time, but he is definitely behind Gaskin in terms of snaps and touches. I think, as the season continues, we will start to see more from him, but he is not a featured part of the offense right now - and I think everyone expected to see the coaches use him more this season.

Where do you believe Miami’s biggest advantage in this game is, and do you think they’ll be able to expose the 49ers in this area?

Besides health, or maybe because of the injury issues for the 49ers, it is probably the receivers. DeVante Parker has been playing well, despite dealing with a hamstring issue all season. Isaiah Ford has shown flashes, and Jakeem Grant has blazing speed - rivaling that of Breida - and can use it whenever the team gets him involved. Preston Williams has been a disappointment to start the season, but he is starting to look better. Tight end Mike Gesicki is definitely a factor in the passing game, and he can become a huge receiving option in any game - but he also disappears in games. I think Miami can match up well in the receivers vs. 49ers’ defensive backs portion of the game, and I think they will be able to find success. How much success? It probably depends on if we see Fitzmagic or Fitztragic this weekend.

What’s your score prediction for this game, and why?

I am going to give Miami the advantage simply because of the injuries. I think the full-strength 49ers are clearly a better team than the Dolphins, but the decimated 49ers may not be that far ahead of Miami. I’ll go for the upset, and maybe it is a simple homer pick, but I think the Dolphins can win this week. If not, it might be Tua-Time sooner than the coaches planned.

Let’s say 27-24.