The Miami Dolphins had two plays on Sunday go for a combined 120 yards for two touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, their other 43 plays on Sunday went for a combined 188 yards with four turnovers which led to their 33-17 loss to the 49ers.
The 49ers moved to 8-4 and 5-1 at Levi’s Stadium on the season with the win but did lose Jimmy Garoppolo for the remainder of the season. However, Brock Purdy came in and played well in the win, earning him a spot as one of the winners this week.
Winner: Kyle Shanahan
Sunday might have been Shanahan’s best performance of the season in several different areas. First, Shanahan was aggressive on fourth down for the second week in a row, going for it twice and converting one—a Brock Purdy quarterback sneak.
He also finished two-for-two on challenges in a game for the first time since September 21, 2017, with two critical calls overturned in the fourth quarter, nullifying two Dolphins passes that were initially ruled complete.
What stood out most was the disparity in time of possession and number of plays. The 49ers' offense ran 34 more plays (79-45) and held the ball more than 20 minutes longer than the Dolphins (40:34-19:26). The 49ers' offense was able to keep the Dolphins offense off the field and subsequently to their lowest output since Week 7.
Winner: QB Brock Purdy
He wasn’t perfect, but Purdy stood out on Sunday considering the circumstances. Purdy entered the game early in the first quarter after Jimmy Garoppolo exited with a foot injury, finishing the game with two touchdowns and an interception to go along with 210 yards on 25-of-37 passing.
The future for Purdy and the 49ers' starting quarterback spot is currently up in the air, but that’s a conversation for another day. Purdy played well on Sunday and helped the 49ers pick up a much-needed victory to stay atop the NFC West.
Winner: DE Nick Bosa
Bosa finished Sunday with the same number of sacks (3) as he did the entire month of November when he won NFC Defensive Player of the Month. His biggest sack of the game came with 1:53 left in the 4th quarter, and the 49ers were up nine.
Bosa got to Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailla as he was throwing and forcing a fumble that was recovered and returned for a touchdown by Dre Greenlaw. Bosa also had four quarterback hits and two tackles for loss in what was easily his best game of the season.
Winner: Forcing turnovers
The 49ers' defense forced a season-high four turnovers against a Dolphins offense that, entering Sunday, had the fourth-fewest turnovers in the league. All four turnovers came in the second half, starting with back-to-back third-quarter passes from Tagovailoa that were intercepted by Jimmie Ward and Deommodore Lenoir, the first of his career.
Later in the fourth quarter, after Bosa and Greenlaw combined for the aforementioned strip-sack for a touchdown, the Dolphins turned it over once again, on the very next play from scrimmage, with a Skylar Thompson interception that more or less looked like it was intended for Fred Warner. It marked the first time a 49ers defense forced four turnovers in a game since Week 12 in 2020 against the Los Angeles Rams.
Loser: second half scoreless streak
It was bound to end at some point and was gone as quickly as Tyreek Hill runs. The defense was able to get through the third quarter without giving up a point, but on the Dolphins' second play in the fourth quarter, Tagovailoa hit Hill for a 45-yard touchdown, shrinking the 49ers lead to six and snapping the defense’s four-game streak without allowing a second-half point.
While the streak did come to an end, the defense should hang their hat on holding the Miami offense to just the one touchdown in the second half en route to the win.
Winner: RBs Christian McCaffrey and Jordan Mason
McCaffrey finished with a game one would expect from him: 25 touches for 146 total yards and a receiving touchdown. But, just like Garoppolo, Purdy used McCaffrey as his safety valve, hitting the running back for seven of his eight receptions.
Mason finished with eight rushing attempts for 51 yards in his heaviest usage of the season. He entered the game with just ten rushing attempts, nearly doubling that with his performance on Sunday. The backup running back spot is an important one within the Shanahan offense, and Mason did more than enough to keep the spot through next week at a minimum.