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7 posts from December 9, 2012

December 09, 2012

San Fran. beats the Dolphins, 27-13

SAN FRANCISCO -- The optimist will say the Dolphins traveled across country and gave one of the better teams in the NFC a tough game. The pessimist will see this as another example of the Dolphins not being good enough.

The 49ers beat the Dolphins 27-13 on Sunday.

This realist sees it as a fine effort that fell short because, well, the Dolphins don't have enough horses.

Don't make enough plays in crunchtime.

Probably don't know how to win tight road games against very good teams this because they haven't done it in a long time.

You shouldn't be disappointed. But neither should you be at all excited.

The Dolphins have lost five of the last six games. They have clinched their fourth consecutive year without a winning record

It is what it is.

 

49ers lead Dolphins 13-6 going to the fourth quarter

SAN FRANCISCO -- The pace picked up a bit in the third quarter, but the Dolphins are no closer to victory. Further, actually.

The problem in the third quarter was a Marcus Thigpen fumbled punt inside his 10 yard line. The 49ers converted with a 1-yard Frank Gore TD run. Gore, by the way, has gone over 1,000 yards for the sixth time in his career.

The Dolphins answered San Francisco's TD with a field goal. Story of the year for the offense.

The live blog rolls on in the comments section. Go there!

49ers lead the Dolphins 6-3 going to the third quarter

SAN FRANCISCO -- This is a hard-fought defensive game so far.

Cameron Wake has as many sacks (3) as the Dolphins have points. That's the kind of game it is.

The 49ers haven't been able to mount much of an offense against Miami. Yes, they drove for a game-leading field goal just before the half, but otherwise the Miami defense is fighting.

The Dolphins trail 6-3.

The live blog continues in the comments section. Join me there.

Dolphins and 'Niners tied at 0-0 going to second quarter

SAN FRANCISCO -- It's not a blowout!

In fact, the Dolphins and 49ers are knotted at 0-0 but the Dolphins have at least mounnted a drive versus the vaunted 'Frisco D.

The 49ers, meanwhile, have been largely unable to move with any consistency on offense. So far, so good.

The live blog rolls in the comments section. See you there.

Live blog here: Can the Dolphins win?

Jimmy Wilson (hip) is inactive today. As I told you earlier this week, maybe this isn't terrible.

The other inactives are Pat Devlin, Michael Coe, Josh Kaddu, PatrickBrown, Michael Egnew and Kyle Miller.

So here's the question: Does Miami have a chance today?

My answer: Yes. It is a slim chance, but yes, the Dolphins have a chance.

Simply, the 49ers beat teams doing what it is the Dolphins like to counter better than anything. The 49ers want to run the football. The Dolphins stop the run well. The 49ers make game-changing plays in the passing game, mostly by sacking the QB. The Dolphins want to get the ball out fast today and they mostly want to run the football.

The Dolphins are susceptible to elite QBs picking on their nickel corners. Well, Colin Kaepernick is not elite.

I am not predicting a Dolphins victory. In fact, I picked San Francisco this week.

But out of the question?

No.

A reminder that the live blog begins in the comments section at kickoff. I'll meet you there.

Dolphins at 49ers: Which team has the advantage?

So which team has the advantage today?

Well, see if you agree with me:

When the Dolphins run the ball: You know about the Dolphins short-yardage struggles. They have converted only 12 of 26 tries on third-and-1 or less and only 5 of 11 tries on third-and-two. Well, Miami would be better off staying out of short yardage situations because this game because when opponents face third-and-three or less, the 49ers defense has allowed just a 39.5 percent conversion rate. That ranks first in the NFL. Reggie Bush said he expects this to be the Dolphins most physical game of the season. If Miami cannot win the battle against San Francisco’s front seven, it basically cannot win the game because the 49ers aim to make their opponent a one-dimensional passing team and then come after the quarterback. The Dolphins don’t want that. Bush must keep his average around 4 yards per carry. And he needs to get enough carries to keep the 49ers honest. ADVANTAGE: San Francisco.

When the Dolphins pass the ball: As good as the 49ers have been stopping the run, they have better credentials against the pass. They are ranked second in the NFL against the pass. Although the sacks are down slightly this year (the team ranks 10th in the NFL) the 49ers lead the NFL in sacks over the past three years. That is a big deal for Miami this week because the Dolphins will be without left tackle Jake Long to protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s blind side. Interestingly, the Dolphins are confident Long’s replacement Jonathan Martin can handle the assignment because he played left tackle at Stanford, played well last week in replacing Long, and is perhaps the future at the position. But the switch from right tackle for Martin forces Miami to use Nate Garner, the team’s sixth or seventh best lineman, into the starting job at right tackle. And that makes the chances of San Francisco moving NFL sack leader Aldon Smith over to Garner’s side highly likely. ADVANTAGE: San Francisco.

When the 49ers run the ball: This should be epic. The thing the Dolphins do better than just about anything else on either offense or defense is stop the run. The front seven has been mostly consistent throughout the season. Only one running back has gone over 100 yards against the Dolphins and only three teams have gone over 100 yards rushing against Miami. But the thing the 49ers do best is, you guessed it, run the football. The 49ers are No. 2 in the NFL in rushing. Former Coral Gables High and University of Miami product Frank Gore has not slowed down in his eighth season. He is already the team’s all-time leading rusher and leads a rushing attack that averages 5.3 yards per attempt. The addition of Colin Kaepernick at quarterback also adds a dangerous dimension in that he can scramble as well as throw. ADVANTAGE: Even.

When the 49ers pass the ball: Randy Moss can still run and blow the top off the defense, but the 49ers have not been using him in that role very often. It’s the reason he has only 19 catches. Ted Ginn can run and blow the top off the defense. But he’s caught only two passes and is mostly a return specialist. The big problems the 49ers pose are Michael Crabtree, a possession receiver, and tight end Vernon Davis, who has a knack for getting behind the secondary. Davis has catches of 53 and 46 yards this season and had a 100-yard game against the Bills. The Dolphins will be without Jimmy Wilson, their nickel cornerback, this week. That may not be a bad thing as Wilson has struggled in coverage this year. That means either Nolan Carroll or R.J. Stanford will be coming on the cornerback blitz this week. ADVANTAGE: Even.

Special teams: One special teams flop against Buffalo was happenstance. Another against Seattle was a trend. And a couple of more miscues against New England are starting to look like a troubling habit. The Dolphins special teams are hurting the team’s chances of winning the past few weeks. That needs to stop. The 49ers aren’t having such issues. Punter Andy Lee is a three-time Pro Bowl player and kicker David Akers has been to six Pro Bowls. Akers kicked a 63-yard field goal against Green Bay in September – a kick that tied Tom Dempsey for the NFL’s longest kick ever. ADVANTAGE: San Francisco. 

Coaching: The 49ers, at their core, are a very physical no-nonsense team. The problem they pose on offense is they take that philosophy and use disguise and misdirection and multiple sets that are hard to dissect and prepare for. It will be a test of the Dolphins coaching staff. Joe Philbin and his staff also have to figure out a way to make the loss of left tackle Jake Long seem inconsequential against, yes, the NFL’s sack leader. ADVANTAGE: San Francisco.

Dolphins at 49ers: Which team has the advantage

So which team has the advantage today?

Well, see if you agree with me:

When the Dolphins run the ball: You know about the Dolphins short-yardage struggles. They have converted only 12 of 26 tries on third-and-1 or less and only 5 of 11 tries on third-and-two. Well, Miami would be better off staying out of short yardage situations because this game because when opponents face third-and-three or less, the 49ers defense has allowed just a 39.5 percent conversion rate. That ranks first in the NFL. Reggie Bush said he expects this to be the Dolphins most physical game of the season. If Miami cannot win the battle against San Francisco’s front seven, it basically cannot win the game because the 49ers aim to make their opponent a one-dimensional passing team and then come after the quarterback. The Dolphins don’t want that. Bush must keep his average around 4 yards per carry. And he needs to get enough carries to keep the 49ers honest. ADVANTAGE: San Francisco.

When the Dolphins pass the ball: As good as the 49ers have been stopping the run, they have better credentials against the pass. They are ranked second in the NFL against the pass. Although the sacks are down slightly this year (the team ranks 10th in the NFL) the 49ers lead the NFL in sacks over the past three years. That is a big deal for Miami this week because the Dolphins will be without left tackle Jake Long to protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s blind side. Interestingly, the Dolphins are confident Long’s replacement Jonathan Martin can handle the assignment because he played left tackle at Stanford, played well last week in replacing Long, and is perhaps the future at the position. But the switch from right tackle for Martin forces Miami to use Nate Garner, the team’s sixth or seventh best lineman, into the starting job at right tackle. And that makes the chances of San Francisco moving NFL sack leader Aldon Smith over to Garner’s side highly likely. ADVANTAGE: San Francisco.

When the 49ers run the ball: This should be epic. The thing the Dolphins do better than just about anything else on either offense or defense is stop the run. The front seven has been mostly consistent throughout the season. Only one running back has gone over 100 yards against the Dolphins and only three teams have gone over 100 yards rushing against Miami. But the thing the 49ers do best is, you guessed it, run the football. The 49ers are No. 2 in the NFL in rushing. Former Coral Gables High and University of Miami product Frank Gore has not slowed down in his eighth season. He is already the team’s all-time leading rusher and leads a rushing attack that averages 5.3 yards per attempt. The addition of Colin Kaepernick at quarterback also adds a dangerous dimension in that he can scramble as well as throw. ADVANTAGE: Even.

When the 49ers pass the ball: Randy Moss can still run and blow the top off the defense, but the 49ers have not been using him in that role very often. It’s the reason he has only 19 catches. Ted Ginn can run and blow the top off the defense. But he’s caught only two passes and is mostly a return specialist. The big problems the 49ers pose are Michael Crabtree, a possession receiver, and tight end Vernon Davis, who has a knack for getting behind the secondary. Davis has catches of 53 and 46 yards this season and had a 100-yard game against the Bills. The Dolphins will be without Jimmy Wilson, their nickel cornerback, this week. That may not be a bad thing as Wilson has struggled in coverage this year. That means either Nolan Carroll or R.J. Stanford will be coming on the cornerback blitz this week. ADVANTAGE: Even.

Special teams: One special teams flop against Buffalo was happenstance. Another against Seattle was a trend. And a couple of more miscues against New England are starting to look like a troubling habit. The Dolphins special teams are hurting the team’s chances of winning the past few weeks. That needs to stop. The 49ers aren’t having such issues. Punter Andy Lee is a three-time Pro Bowl player and kicker David Akers has been to six Pro Bowls. Akers kicked a 63-yard field goal against Green Bay in September – a kick that tied Tom Dempsey for the NFL’s longest kick ever. ADVANTAGE: San Francisco. 

Coaching: The 49ers, at their core, are a very physical no-nonsense team. The problem they pose on offense is they take that philosophy and use disguise and misdirection and multiple sets that are hard to dissect and prepare for. It will be a test of the Dolphins coaching staff. Joe Philbin and his staff also have to figure out a way to make the loss of left tackle Jake Long seem inconsequential against, yes, the NFL’s sack leader. ADVANTAGE: San Francisco.