For the 49ers, it was time to take care of business.
Unfortunately for them, Sunday was definitely not that day. An utterly humiliating 43-17 loss at home, their third of the season, to an underwhelming Miami Dolphins (2-3) team leaves little to be desired moving forward for the 49ers.
In his return to the field post-injury, Jimmy Garoppolo (7-of-17, 77 yards, 2 INT) was benched after a disastrous first half on offense and defense. The only bright spot for the 49ers: Raheem Mostert (11 carries, 90 yards, 3 receptions, 29 yards).
It was an encouraging week for the 49ers, who received good news on the injury front. All three of Garoppolo, Mostert, and LB Dre Greenlaw returned to practice and would play Sunday as the team is starting to get healthier week by week.
Miami won the coin toss and elected to defer. The 49ers got the ball first.
Garoppolo and the 49ers offense began the games first drive from the 25-yard line. Back to back runs with Mostert brought up 3rd-and-6 on which they were unable to convert. A quick three-and-out.
A horse-collar tackle called on the 49ers moved the Dolphins up to the 9-yard line. Two plays later, a short touchdown pass to Adam Shaheen gave the Dolphins an early lead, leading 7-0 after the extra-point.
49ers LB Fred Warner discussed the defense’s struggles in the first half:
“I’ll speak for the defense, that was as worse of a half as we’ve had. Just giving up explosive [plays], we know [explosive plays] turn into points. There were a couple of drives where we held them out of the end zone, but that’s not our style of football at all. I’ll be the first to take that on the chin and say ‘I gotta be better,’ for this defense. Everybody’s gotta be better, it was embarrassing.”
Allowing the Dolphins to march 89 yards down the field in just over two minutes on the opening drive was not a good look for the 49ers defense.
Mostert carried on the first play of the 49ers second drive. Two plays later, a pass to Brandon Aiyuk over the middle gave the 49ers a first down near mid-field. Garoppolo was sacked on the very next play.
A short pass to Mostert set the 49ers up with a 3rd-and-12 on which they came up a yard short. On 4th-and-1, Jerick McKinnon was unable to pick up the first down on a run up the middle. A turnover on downs for the 49ers, and so the frustrations on offense continued.
Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins took over at their own 44-yard line. Fitzpatrick completed another deep pass, this time to DeVante Parker for 28 yards to the 49ers 28-yard line.
On 3rd-and-3, a roughing the passer penalty called on the 49ers gave the Dolphins a 1st down to the 49ers 7-yard line. Two plays later, the Dolphins punched in another score. The 49ers were on red alert, down 14-0 to the Dolphins early.
Starting from their own 14-yard line, the 49ers offense looked to get something, anything going. Garoppolo rolled out and hit Deebo Samuel in stride for a gain of 15 yards on the first play.
A couple runs with Mostert gave the 49ers a second consecutive first down. Garoppolo was then sacked for a loss of eight yards. A pass to George Kittle for 11 yards presented a 3rd-and-7 from the 42-yard line.
An incomplete pass forced another 49ers punt. Just a horrendous start to Sundays game on both sides of the ball.
A deep punt pinned the Dolphins at their own 5-yard line. One play and the first quarter came to a close.
The Dolphins were unable to convert on third down, resulting in their first punt of the game. The 49ers began their next drive with good field position from the Dolphins 49-yard line.
Mostert gave the 49ers a jolt of energy on the first play of the drive, a 37-yard run to the Miami 12-yard line. A second straight run with Mostert gained five yards to the Dolphins 7-yard line.
The momentum started to change. A very well designed run from the fullback Kyle Juszczyk gave the 49ers their first touchdown. They now trailed 14-7 after the extra point.
Fitzpatrick evaded pressure and scrambled for 17 yards on the first play of the Dolphins following drive. The 49ers defense continues to struggle to contain opposing teams quarterbacks.
Two completions into 49ers territory gave the Dolphins a first down from the 49ers 30-yard line. A pass interference called on the 49ers, and the Dolphins were once again knocking on the door.
A Dolphins penalty backed them up before Kerry Hyder recorded the 49ers first sack of the game. A 3rd-and-22 resulted in a third Dolphins touchdown. The 49ers defense was in shambles, trailing 21-7 with 7:29 remaining in the half.
Mostert carried for a first down to begin the 49ers next drive. Two plays later, Garoppolo found Aiyuk over the middle, into Dolphins territory.
Garoppolo discussed how the 49ers need to find their identity as a team and the urgency that comes with it given their tough schedule:
“Every offense, and every team really, you have to find your identity. It’s a process, every team goes through it every year. It’s not one of those things that goes quickly, it takes time. We need to do it with a sense of urgency, it really comes down to finding out who we are, what we do best, and going out there and doing it on the field. There’s a million little things that all come together and we gotta keep working at it.”
Garoppolo was soon hit from behind and fumbled, recovered by the 49ers. A 3rd-and-14 resulted in an incompletion and another 49ers punt. With 4:40 left in the half, the 49ers were leaking oil.
On the second play of the Dolphins next drive, a huge blow to the 49ers defense as Fitzpatrick connects on a 70-yard pass setting up the Dolphins with a devastating red-zone opportunity.
On 3rd-and-9 from the 49ers 8-yard line, the Dolphins were unable to convert. A successful field goal attempt extended the Dolphins lead to 24-7 with 2:00 remaining.
A tipped pass and an incompletion and the 49ers were faced with a quick 3rd-and-10. When it rains, it pours. Garoppolo was intercepted, the Dolphins took over in 49ers territory.
Garoppolo did not use his injured ankle as an excuse for his performance Sunday:
“I felt it. I wouldn’t say it affected everything. It’s just one of those things you gotta deal with. It’s tough, it was a tough one today. I just wanted to be out there with the guys, wanted to get the win today. A lot of things didn’t go well for us.”
Miraculously the 49ers forced a 4th down, and another Dolphins field goal. The Dolphins once again extended their lead to 27-7 with 38 seconds left in the half.
What if i told you that Garoppolo threw another interception? Because he did. There aren’t really words to describe how horrible the 49ers looked on both sides of the ball.
The Dolphins took over at the 49ers 19-yard line. Another field goal for the Dolphins sent this game into half time. The 49ers were utterly humiliated in the first half, trailing 30-7.
Unfortunately for the 49ers, half time was over and they had to go back onto the field. The Dolphins also received the opening kickoff.
The 49ers defense came out strong, forcing a Dolphins punt on the opening drive.
A huge change for the 49ers in the second half. Garoppolo was benched for backup quarterback C.J. Beathard.
49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan discussed the decision to bench Garoppolo in the second half:
“Just the way that the whole game was going. Just watching how we were playing as a whole, how he was playing. You could tell that he was affected by his ankle. I know he normally doesn’t throw the ball that way, and i think he was struggling a bit because of it. The way the game was going, I wasn’t going to keep putting him in those positions, knowing that we were going to have to throw it a lot to come back.”
Beathard, who replaced Mullens in Week 4 and looked good in crunch time, was tasked with giving the 49ers a jolt of energy anyway he coud.
Back to back running plays with Mostert and Juszczyk gave the 49ers a first down. Two incomplete passes led to a sack of Beathard that was negated due to a Dolphins penalty.
A run followed by another incomplete pass resulted in an incompletion on 3rd down that was also negated due to a Dolphins defensive penalty. Beathard and the offense looked bad, but the Dolphins kept gifting them first downs.
From the Dolphins 38-yard line, a run from Mostert and a pass to Kittle moved the 49ers into the red zone. A short pass to Kendrick Bourne resulted in a crucial 19-yard touchdown. The extra point made this a 30-14 Dolphins lead.
The 49ers defense forced a 4th-and-1 on the Dolphins following drive that was converted on a fake-punt, giving the Dolphins a sneaky first down.
Former 49ers RB Matt Breida caught a screen pass, taking it up-field into 49ers territory. A gain of 31 yards to the 49ers 34-yard line.
Fitzpatrick was not phased after half time. A deep pass over the middle resulted in another Dolphins touchdown. The 32-yard score gave the Dolphins a 37-14 lead with 4:42 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
Beathard found Mostert over the middle for a completion of 15 yards near mid-field. A few plays later, two consecutive defensive penalties moved the 49ers into Dolphins territory.
Jeff Wilson carried for nine yards to the Dolphins 36-yard line. Another run with Wilson gave the 49ers a first down. A pass to Kittle for a first down and the 49ers offense was moving quickly into the red zone.
An incomplete pass was followed by an ugly sack of Beathard as soon as he snapped the ball. On 3rd-and-19 from the 24-yard line, a dump off pass for a small gain resulted in a 4th down and a field goal. The 49ers trailed 37-17.
The clock expired in the 3rd quarter. Down by 20 points, the 49ers chances of a comeback were slim-to-none with one quarter remaining.
Kittle talked about the teams fighting spirit that persisted throughout the end of the game:
“The fight is there. We have the guys. We don’t have guys that want to jump off the ship. I think our defense did a really good job for the situation that the offense put them in. They were holding them to field goals. The fight is there. The offense, we gotta do something to help and we didn’t help our defense out there. We’re missing a lot of guys on defense and I thought this was an opportunity for our offense to take a step forward and we obviously didn’t. It’s frustrating, but we have the guys to do it.”
A pass interference called on the 49ers defense gave the Dolphins a first down near mid-field.
A big run from Dolphins RB Myles Gaskin into 49ers territory gave the Dolphins a first down from the 38-yard line. Fast forward multiple plays, the Dolphins kicked another field goal. They now led 40-17 with 8:40 left in the game.
The 49ers next drive went very poorly. Faced with 4th down, a failure to convert resulted in a turnover on downs in 49ers territory. The Dolphins were unable to get anything going, not that they needed to.
Already in 49ers territory, a field goal extended their lead to 43-17.
Beathard and the offense dinked and dunked their way to mid-field after a few short passes and a couple of running plays. It didn’t matter, because Beathard fumbled. The Dolphins once again took over in 49ers territory.
The Dolphins went for it on 4th-and-1 and converted. Two kneel-downs and this game was finally over. The 49ers nightmare afternoon came to a close.
Shanahan gave a very honest assessment of the 49ers ugly loss Sunday:
“I know we went into a tough situation defensively with some of the guys we were missing. I knew that would be a challenge going into the game. Regardless, when you go in with that situation, and you play the way we did on offense, turn the ball over three times, you get stopped on two fourth downs that’s basically five turnovers to me, and you don’t play clean football, i don’t care who you play whether you’re healthy or hurt, it really doesn’t matter. When you do play like that, that’s usually going to be the result. There’s only one way to fix that. There’s nothing to talk about, it’s called getting better. There’s a lot of aspects to our game that obviously we can get better at.”
After their embarrassing loss to the Dolphins in Week 5, the 49ers will welcome the division-rival Los Angeles Rams (4-1) to Levi’s Stadium for a prime time matchup under the lights. With the 49ers flailing the way they are, facing a very good team such as the Rams next week is a daunting task that they may not be up for.