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One reason the 49ers will beat the Dolphins (and one reason they won’t)

4-0 heading into Week 5, baby!

Miami Dolphins Training Camp Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

After 81% of San Francisco 49ers fans picked the Niners to beat the Eagles, San Francisco is now 4-0 as they get ready for Matt Breida’s ultimate revenge game. If this were on the road, it has the elements of a trap game. I think Miami will make plays on both sides of the ball to keep in interesting early on before the floodgates open.

Reason for: Miami can’t block or catch

The Dolphins were dead last in adjusted line yards, second to last in pressure rate, and fourth-worst in adjusted sack rate. Miami allowed a league-high 161 quarterback knockdowns, including both passes and sacks canceled by penalty. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s knockdown rate on 22.6% of passes was the highest in the league for a quarterback with at least 200 passes. I imagine by the time the Dolphins come to Santa Clara, Fitzpatrick would still be the quarterback. You’re not going to throw your rookie quarterback to the wolves this early in the season.

When you sign Ereck Flowers as an upgrade, you know you’re struggling upfront. Miami went heavy in the draft along the offensive line. Austin Jackson was reportedly on the 49ers radar leading up to the NFL Draft. He looks the part, but Jackson’s tape wasn’t very good. The type of lineman Miami has, tall, big and slow, is the type of guy that the 49ers defensive line eats alive. It may not matter who is at quarterback.

Not to be outdone, the Dolphins had the second-most drops in the NFL last season. Miami lost their slot receiver Albert Wilson after he opted-out of the 2020 season. DeVante Parker is a stud. Second-year wide receiver Preston Williams is dangerous, but he struggled with drops and is coming off a torn ACL. Miami failed to draft a receiver in arguably the deepest draft at the position in history. Miami has unheralded weapons such as “tight end” Mike Gesicki, but the line may not allow whoever is under center to make plays.

Reason against: Can’t beat Miami’s cornerbacks

Miami is going to play man coverage against the 49ers. That’s no secret. Byron Jones, Xavien Howard, Eric Rowe, Nik Needham, and first-round draft pick Noah Noah Igbinoghene—who has reportedly had a great training camp—give the Dolphins a strong secondary. Jerome Baker and Kyle Van Noy give Miami two smart linebackers. I like this back-seven quite a bit and think they match up well against San Francisco.

Kyle Shanahan will have to get creative if Deebo Samuel is out. Even with Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, they’re young, and Howard and Jones have proven to be top-10 cornerbacks when healthy. Needham and Igbinoghene are the types of cornerbacks that give Trent Taylor and Kendrick Bourne problems in man coverage. I give Miami the advantage here, and a couple of tipped passes could keep them in the game.

Unfortunately, Miami doesn’t have a pass rush and struggles to stop the inside run.


Will the 49ers beat the Dolphins

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