Two of the NFL’s hottest teams meet in Santa Clara on Sunday, with the 7-4 49ers hosting the 8-3 Miami Dolphins. The two teams have a combined 8-0 record since Week 8 with the 49ers on a four-game winning streak and the Dolphins on a six-game winning streak of their own.
Miami’s offense has been in top form, scoring at least 30 points in each of their last four games, but they’ll face the 49ers and a defense that ranks at the top league in several key stat categories.
With Kyle Shanahan facing off against former offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, these are some numbers that stand out between the 49ers and Dolphins.
Games the 49ers have played against teams above .500 entering Sunday. The 49ers are 2-1 in those games, with the wins coming in Week 2 against the Seahawks and Week 10 against the Chargers and the loss coming at the hands of the Chiefs in October.
For comparison’s sake, the Dolphins have played against six teams who enter Sunday with a .500 or better record, going 3-3 in those games. With the 49ers not playing many games against the top-tier teams in the league, the Dolphins should offer one of the toughest games of the season for the 49ers.
Times the Dolphins have been held scoreless in the fourth quarter in 11 games this season. The 49ers' defense streak of four consecutive games without allowing a second-half point on paper could be in jeopardy.
They’ll face a Dolphins offense on Sunday that is sixth in the league in points scored and third in total yards with two of the most dynamic receivers in the league.
However, the Dolphins have shown struggles scoring in the final 15 minutes of games. In a couple of those games, they haven’t needed to score, like last week against the Texans when Miami entered the fourth quarter with a 30-point lead, for example, but in two of their three losses, Miami was held to scoreless fourth quarters. In their first two losses of the season, both fourth quarters started in one-possession games but both resulted in two-possession losses because of the Dolphins' scoreless final frames.
Jordan Mason’s play counts on offense this season. Mason was a popular name during camp as a player to watch but has been nothing more than a special teamer until recent weeks. Now with Elijah Mitchell’s injury, Mason will likely take the second running back spot behind Christian McCaffrey. Mitchell saw 25, 13, and 12 snaps in his three games since returning from his Week 1 injury, so that could serve as a baseline of what to expect for Mason on Sunday.
Interceptions by the Dolphins' defense this season tied for the fourth-fewest in the NFL. For the second consecutive week, Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers' offense will play a defense that struggles at forcing turnovers. The Dolphins have had three games where they forced three turnovers but have only forced a combined two in the other nine games.
Garoppolo had a couple of close calls against the Saints, but it could be more likely than not that his four consecutive games without an interception continues on Sunday.
Percent of passes that target either Tyreek Hill or Jaylen Waddle. The Miami duo will easily be the best duo of receivers the 49ers have faced so far this season. Both have played in all 11 of the Dolphins' games combining for 2,196 yards on 143 receptions, and have scored 10 of the Dolphins' 22 passing touchdowns.
In six of those 11 games, at least one of the two finished with 100 or more receiving yards, with three of those games seeing both Waddle and Hill finish over the century mark. The Dolphins' run offense ranks 28th in the NFL, so if the 49ers can contain the two receivers, Miami’s offense could struggle.