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49ers-Dolphins: An early look at Miami going into Week 5

Dolphins head coach Brian Flores says he “presumes” that Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at QB against the Niners.

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers kicked off their three-game homestand with a mistake-filled loss the Philadelphia Eagles. The Niners offense struggled against a strong Eagles defensive front and came up short in a 25-20 defeat.

San Francisco’s Week 5 opponent is the AFC East’s Miami Dolphins, who are playing in the Bay Area for the first time since 2012.

The Dolphins are coming off a 31-23 loss to the 49ers’ NFC West rivals, the Seattle Seahawks. Miami is 1-3 to the start the season, and fans are beginning to call for head coach Brian Flores to start rookie Tua Tagovailoa, who was selected fifth overall at the 2020 NFL Draft.

Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick started at QB the first four games, and Flores says he “presumes” Fitzmagic will get the call again on Sunday. Fitzpatrick has completed 69% of his passing attempts for 994 yards, four touchdowns and five picks. Pro Football Focus has Fitzpatrick graded as the 17th-best QB in the NFL at 72.9.

The Dolphins’ offense is 23rd in yards per game at 347 (240.3 passing, 106.8 rushing) and is putting up 23.3 points per game. Running back Myles Gaskin is the lead-back, while veteran pass-catcher DeVante Parker is the primary target for Fitzpatrick with 24 receptions for 279 yards through four games. Miami struggled to finish drives against the Seahawks, finishing with five field goals, but the offense is scoring TDs on 60% of its red zone trips, 19th best in the NFL.

Football Outsiders has the Dolphins’ offensive line ranked 25th in adjusted line yards and 11th in pass protection. The unit has given up 6 sacks through Week 4, but ranks dead last in PktTime at 1.4 seconds, which measures how much time the QB has between the snap and throwing the ball or being pressured.

Miami’s defense lacks a dynamic playmaker, and the unit is 27th in yards against per game at 409.8. If the 49ers starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo is able to play, it should be a good matchup for the passing game. The Dolphins are giving up 285 yards per contest through the air, which is fifth-most in the NFL. Miami is 19th against the run, surrendering 124.8 yards on the ground per game. Three defensive starters are on the early-week injury report, with CB Byron Jones, LB Shaq Lawson and Kavon Frazier all listed as questionable.

San Francisco’s offensive line is hoping to bounce back from a rough outing against the Eagles after giving up 5 sacks and 15 QB hits. The Dolphins blitz on 25% of the opposing QB’s dropbacks and has recorded 9 sacks through four games, ranking 13th in pressure rate at 20.1%.

Football Outsiders Miami just a 12.6% chance to make the playoffs, not surprising considering the Dolphins are still very early in their rebuild.

The 49ers need to win this game given their upcoming schedule, but as we saw against Philadelphia, nothing will come easy.