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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


49ers vs Dolphins: Keys to Victory and Score Prediction

Matt Andruscavage
Oct 10, 2020 at 11:28 AM


Last week's loss to Philly was a tough one to watch, but it's a new week. Jimmy Garoppolo is back. Dre Greenlaw is full-go. There appears to be a good chance Raheem Mostert and Ahkello Witherspoon are back. Deebo Samuel likely passed his final test for his non-Covid illness and should suit up Sunday.

This week there are two big hurdles to overcome. The offensive line had a bad day against the Eagles and needs to rebound. The defense is thin, like really thin, at corner (Richard Sherman, Emmanuel Moseley, K'Waun Williams and Dontae Johnson are out). At 2-2 and facing the Miami Dolphins, this is a game San Francisco must win in order to get back on track.

If all goes well on the injury front and there are no new injuries beyond something minor, the 49ers have a good chance to put themselves in a position of getting right back into the race for the NFC West as well as the NFC itself.

For the Dolphins, Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at quarterback. The injury bug has not been kind to Miami this season either. Tight end Durham Smythe is out. Rookie left tackle Austin Jackson landed on injured reserve this week. Star defensive end Shaq Lawson is out with a shoulder injury. Injuries are unfortunate and happen to both teams, but in this game, the 49ers will have an advantage in the trenches on both sides of the ball.

Here are five keys to winning this game for the 49ers:

Where and When: Sunday October 11th at 1:05 PM PT at Levi's Stadium

1) Pressure Ryan Fitzpatrick


Miami is not a very good team, but as we saw last week, it's not completely hapless. If given time, Fitzpatrick is capable of picking teams apart and getting points on the board. The key to ensuring Miami does not hang around like Philadelphia did is to get pressure on Fitzpatrick. Not only will the San Francisco defense get off the field more in that scenario, but you can take it to the bank that it will also force turnovers.

The 49ers are doing well statistically on defense, ranked second in the NFL in passing defense (184.0 yards per game), third in scoring defense, and third overall. Obviously, the injuries and the two losses have overshadowed how well this unit has actually played. Despite all of this, the defense needs a dominant performance at least in terms of sacks and turnovers if for no other reason than to help the team get all of its frustration out. This is the week to do this and it starts up front.


If the defensive line gets to Fitzpatrick, the 49ers win by a lot.

2) Protect Jimmy Garoppolo


On the other side, the offensive line needs to rebound from a pretty slow start to the season. In every game, more than one player has given up three or more pressures. Against Miami, the line has to be able to protect Garoppolo, not only to get back on track, but to protect the team's star quarterback. If the 49ers are going to compete in any way for the division, the conference, or the Super Bowl, it will be with Garoppolo at quarterback. He can't get re-injured and needs get in rhythm.

With George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and Raheem Mostert in the lineup, San Francisco has a healthy offense, overall. Getting this unit in a groove will go a long way to building confidence and momentum and what better time than against the Dolphins? It all starts up front.

3) Control the time of possession


We all want to see the 49ers drop 50 or more against the Dolphins, but the most important two things are to win the game and get out with minimal issues on the injury front. The best ways to ensure these happen are to get any kind of a lead and milk the clock.

If the offensive line is playing better and the defense is getting off the field, it will be up to the offense to sustain drives and end this game. The first half will hopefully showcase a lot of offensive fireworks for Jimmy Garoppolo and company while the second half would then, ideally, feature the running game, and even the backups in the fourth quarter.

San Francisco needs to win the time of possession in a landslide.

Prediction


This should be a good bounce-back week for the 49ers. The Dolphins have neither the firepower on offense nor the horses on defense to keep San Francisco from getting a win. The defense will get to Fitzpatrick and allow the offense to take over the game. Garoppolo will look good in his return and this will be one of the few times we can breathe a sigh of relief as the 49ers cruise to victory.

Hopefully, there will be no further injuries.

49ers 34, Dolphins 14
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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