The San Francisco 49ers are unquestionably suffering from injuries, but some of the coaching decisions that were made on Sunday were unacceptable. If Jimmy Garoppolo— who in no way am I absolving from an abysmal performance—wasn’t healthy enough to protect himself, and he didn’t fully participate all week, why play him? Why on earth did it take Brian Allen committing multiple penalties and giving up big plays to pull him? Ahkello Witherspoon was active as an emergency, but couldn’t start? Why not start him from the jump and if Witherspoon couldn’t suit up, then pull him?
The Dolphins won this game by consistent and aggressive play on both sides of the ball. Fitzpatrick was more than willing to take shots downfield, and the defense made it a point to pressure whoever was in at quarterback, but Miami’s fast start was certainly something that foreshadowed how this game would go.
The Dolphins came out fast and furious and scored on their first two possessions while the 49ers went three-and-out and turned the ball over on downs. From the opening kick, it looked like the Dolphins were excited to play football while the 49ers slept through this matchup. You can’t take days off in the NFL, even if you’re playing someone you perceive to be a lesser opponent. The 49ers are capable of much more than what they showed in Week 5.
It started with Garoppolo, who returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sprained ankle. He didn’t look like himself from the start and was pulled at halftime.
Garoppolo finished 7 for 17 for 77 yards, two interceptions and a 15.7 rating. He threw two interceptions in the final two minutes of the first half to set up two Miami field goals that sent the Dolphins to the blowout.
As bad as Garoppolo was, he had plenty of company on a day that started with the Niners having all their offensive skill position players available for the first time all season.
The line struggled for a second straight week, allowing too much pressure and failing to move the defense on a failed fourth-and-1 attempt in the first quarter.
The passing game averaged just 3.2 yards per dropback in the second worst performance since coach Kyle Shanahan arrived in 2017.
There are always oddities in any sport, any season. However, what the San Francisco 49ers have done in 2020 is seriously weird.
The Niners have lost as many games this season as they did all of last year when they went 13-3 and eventually became the NFC representative in the Super Bowl.
Granted, the Niners have been decimated by injuries, their roster shredded. After Week 5, the 49ers are 2-3.
This is where it gets strange:
Shanahan said after the game Witherspoon was only available in an emergency because of a hamstring injury he’s been dealing with. He went in once he told the coaching staff he wanted to play.
Allen, who signed with the 49ers’ practice squad on Sept. 16 got beat for a 47-yard catch on Miami’s first series. He also got beat for a 29-yard gain a couple series later. He was also flagged for a horse collar tackle, flagged for pass interference that gave Miami a possession inside the 49ers’ 5, and got beat for a touchdown all before the end of the second quarter.
If the 49ers secondary continues playing as poorly as it did Sunday, it’s going to be a rough season for the defense.
Instead, it was the Niners’ second consecutive loss, dropping them to 2-3 and into sole possession of last place in the NFC West division.
Now, they enter what is arguably the most difficult stretch of schedule any team will play this season. Over the next seven games, the 49ers will host the Los Angeles Rams, travel to play the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, return home against the Green Bay Packers, go to the New Orleans Saints and Rams and host the Buffalo Bills.
The Niners believe they have built something special and sustainable in the past few years. If that’s true, they’ll have ample opportunity to prove it in the coming weeks.
QB Breakdown: Garoppolo’s return from a high right ankle sprain lasted one half and, like the rest of the game, it wasn’t pretty. Garoppolo never looked comfortable as he was under siege for much of his time on the field and finished 7-of-17 for 77 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 15.7.
Backup C.J. Beathard had a little more success, going 9-of-18 for 94 yards with a touchdown, but the game was out of hand by the time he stepped on the field.
Describe the game in two words: Never close. The Niners looked lifeless from the outset and never really threatened the Dolphins, something that would have been difficult to imagine in August.
8. Drive of the game: As impressive as the quick-scoring strikes were that build the lead, the nine-play, 62-yard drive that lasted 7 minutes and 2 seconds from the end of the third quarter into the fourth quarter was impressive. With a 37-17 lead, the Dolphins offense was asked to pick up some first downs and burn the clock. That means running the ball. This was textbook how to win in the NFL — pass to get the lead and run the ball to keep it. They ran the ball 56 of the 62 yards in that drive. The carries were: for 5, 4, 6, 21, 2, 12, 1, 4, 1 yards. The drive resulted in a field goal to make it, 40-17. Unlike last week, the field goal wasn’t the idea. It was running the clock off with a big lead.