3-1 on the season and Fabian Sommer is keen to keep the good times rolling into week 5 with an inter-conference total play hitting his radar!
I could basically copy last week’s write-up on the Seahawks/Dolphins matchup because there are tons of parallels to be found. We are getting a full-strength San Francisco 49ers offense and an underrated Miami Dolphins offense going at each other without a lot of defense.
Forget all the metrics you are currently seeing in the world wide web when it comes to the 49ers.
They don’t matter.
The offense has played one half of football at full strength – in week 1 against the Cardinals. And that was without WR Deebo Samuel who was on IR. Superstar tight end George Kittle hyperextended his knee and was severely limited after the half. Quarterback Jimmy Garappolo is going to be back after his high ankle sprain. Let’s take a look at the skill position group: George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jerick McKinnon and maybe Raheem Mostert.
That’s a top-10 offense on paper and probably more like borderline top-5 when you include the genius play-caller that is Kyle Shanahan.
It’s the very first time this group is playing together.
The Dolphins defense might get cornerback Byron Jones back, but the rest of the secondary has been awful thus far and the Niners are not attacking cornerbacks as frequently as other offenses do, anyway. They try to attack the middle of the field and get guys into space to create yards after the catch.
The Dolphins neither have the defensive line, nor the linebackers or safeties to counter that attack.
After four weeks of football, the Dolphins defense has the worst coverage grade by Pro Football Focus at 33.4.
That is abysmal.
It’s not even close as the 2nd-worst team is at 40.4. To be fair, they have played against Cam Newton, Josh Allen (yes, I said it), and Russell Wilson. But they couldn’t hold up one bit. Safety Eric Rowe and linebackers Jerome Baker and Kyle Van Noy will be overwhelmed by all the speed that Kyle Shanahan will scheme up against them in space.
Guys will be open and San Francisco are going to put up a lot of points.
There were some discussions about who’s going to start this week, Ryan Fitzpatrick or rookie Tua Tagovailoa. I can fully understand if they want to give Tua some useful reps in an actual game. But their passing offense is not the problem. Since the Patriots game in week one, where Ryan Fitzpatrick got slaughtered by Bill Belichick, Miamis offense ranks 13th in EPA per dropback and an outstanding 4th in success rate.
They are moving the ball very well but are lacking some big plays and yards after the catch.
They could use some more hits on 3rd down. Last week against the Seahawks, they got stuck inside the 30 on five occasions that all resulted in a field goal. They only punted once. With DeVante Parker, Preston Williams and Mike Gesicki, they have the ability to move the ball quite well.
The Niners have one of the better defenses by efficiency metrics, but context matters. They played the Cards, Jets, Giants and Eagles – the easiest schedule so far in the season. This current Miami offense is better than all of those. On top of that, San Francisco has been hit by injuries and they survived against that easy schedule. Since the Super Bowl, the 49ers have lost the following starters who are not going to play this week against Miami: DE Nick Bosa (IR), DT DeForest Buckner (trade), DE Dee Ford (IR), CB Richard Sherman (IR), Emmanuel Moseley and K’Waun Williams (IR).
The only one who is not on IR and has a small chance to play is Moseley but he’s dealing with a concussion and hasn’t practised on Wednesday. In addition, FS Jimmy Ward is dealing with a wrist injury and is a healthy scratch, too. CB Jason Verrett has been playing decently and rookie Javon Kinlaw looks like a good pick, but the niners are a pale imitation of the defense that propelled them to a 13-3 record last season.
‘Fitzmagic’ should be able to move the ball here and maybe they get a little bit more luck near the opposing red zone. DeVante Parker and Preston Williams should be able to eat against those 3rd-string cornerbacks. The 49ers are favoured for a reason and they might jump a lead which forces Fitzpatrick to air it out.
This game looks like a 31-21 type of game to me with tons of upside.
- Miami Dolphins / San Francisco 49ers over 51.5 at 1.91