Anyone else get the feeling that this week begins the cliched “Business End” of the season?
We are 8-3, unbeaten with Tua, and have looked really, really good at times this season. Hell, we were able to rest our starters last week, when was the last time we could do that for more than a drive or two!
Yet, people will still say, it was the Bears, it was the Lions, it was the Texans. People will throw the strength of our schedule right at us. The narratives will exist that we won games because of WHO we were playing, not HOW we were playing.
But this week starts against the 49ers starts a run of games that includes the Bills, the Chargers, the Packers, the Jets and the Patriots. No easy games in there, given the players on their rosters, and the form they’re in.
A lot of away games against playoff caliber opponents, with some cold weather games and playoff pressure. Thinking back to last season, exactly the type of game we faltered at. Away, against the playoff-bound Titans, in the pouring rain with the season on the line, and Tua and his offense produced one of their worst displays.
The games we having coming up provide an opportunity, and opportunity for Tua to right that wrong, an opportunity for Coach Mike and his staff to show just how much is different under his rule, and an opportunity for Miami fans across the world to see what this team is made of and to put even more of the negative narratives to rest.
So yes, I can’t help feeling the business end of the season is really upon us. Starting away at Mike McDaniel’s old stomping ground. So I hooked up with a fellow NFL fan here in the UK, Paul Hope from @49erFaithfulUK to talk about our respective teams and what could happen this Sunday…
Hi there pal, thank you for joining me on this one. This feels like a significant game for us, and I’m excited. Delighted to get another UK fan into the series too. For those unfamiliar with you, introduce yourself for me and then we’ll jump in.
No worries buddy, more than happy to help a fellow member from the NFL UK Community. My name is Paul Hope, I’m part of the 49erFaithfulUK admin team, podcast team & run the group’s social media. I also contribute to various other 49ers podcasts. Sunday’s game should be an interesting one for sure.
Absolutely, I can’t wait. Not all Dolphins fans agree, but it feels significant to me. So a pretty solid season then so far? 7-4 after shutting out the Saints. From the outside, you guys seem like a very solid team that will be very dangerous. Does your record reflect your start and where do you think this season goes for you?
Inside the 49ers world, life is good! We have won 4 straight, our defense looks incredible & we are sat atop of the NFC West. However, we have heard the chatter about our ‘soft schedule’ / in different offences & THAT defeat to the Chiefs earlier in the season. At the start of the season, I called for a 13-4 record and a deep playoff run & I still stand by that. More since we added CMC as he has added that missing piece to our defense & has become Jimmy G’s safety valve! The losses to the bears and the falcons were hard to take (more so as we had our official watch parties in Leeds for these) & the bronco’s performance was pretty dire. That said, we are heading into December, top of our division with a winning record & I believe our defense fears no one.
Oh have you guys had the ‘soft schedule’ narrative thrown at you too? Well you have an ally there, as we have had to deal with the same sort of criticism ourselves. And we’ve also heard a lot about that defense, one of our strengths has been our offense and your defense has been formidable, that in itself will prove a fantastic match up. Especially with our offense being ran by Mike McDaniel…
And I can’t really go much further without talking about Coach Mike. A guy we tried to interview for the OC job last year, but thank god we didn’t. He waited it out, got valuable experience and was not tainted by the Brian Flores show. Instead, he fills his empty shoes and seems to be empowering Tua and the rest of this offense to new heights.
What is the San Fran opinion on Coach Mike, did you expect this success from his teams and what do you expect from his offense this weekend?
We were sorry to see Mike leave, but on the same hand delighted he has been given this fantastic opportunity at one of the better NFL franchises. He was a big part of what we do at San Francisco & it has been no surprise to us to see him become a success, using a similar scheme/playbook that Shanahan runs. Obviously, the Dolphins bring a high powered offense that has been firing on all cylinders. I am a huge fan of Tyreek Hill & Jaylen Waddle & obviously you have a few old 49ers coming back to town! So we fully expect to see Mike dip into his bag of tricks. Tua has impressed under Mike, who appears to have done similar to what Kyle has done for Jimmy (which is simplify the playbook and make it easy for his QB) & obviously with an 8-3 record, we know we are in for a game this week.
Maybe this is my staunch defense of Tua, but there’s so much more than simply making it easy for him. You watch his impressively fast release times, whilst maintaining upper tier accuracy and that points to more than simply making the offense an easier thing for him. I mean, I take your point, he is in a far more favorable position than he was last year, but he is contributing so much more than often given credit for.
But we’ll come back to Tua, talk to us about the QB situation down there. There’s half an interest from our side in this, you guys obviously flipping us 3 first-rounders to get Trey Lance. We have always felt good about that deal, because those three picks were used to draft Jaylen Waddle, and included in packages that landed us Tyreek Hill & Bradley Chubb.
So how do you guys feel about that trade? Obviously, injuries have hampered him this year, but in pre-season he was handed the reigns and Jimmy G signed what seemed like a back up contract. But yet here we are with Jimmy seemingly leading you to the playoffs again. Talk to me. What’s the view from San Fran?
QB Situation? At San Francisco? We have no idea what you are talking about! Sorry couldn’t resist, this is like a never-ending story! Obviously, we all believed that this season would be all about Trey Area & that Jimmy G wouldn’t be a 49er, but thank god we kept him as a backup! Dred to think what our season would look like now if we hadn’t! Aside from the broncos game, Jimmy G has been better than most would have given him credit for. He is certainly playing some of the best football of his career & the fact we are passing the ball more than running tells its own story. Obviously what you guys have done with the 3 first-round picks we gave up for Trey has been pretty impressive, but personally, I still feel good about the trade. We are focusing on this season, and Jimmy is now QB1 but we do feel at the 49erFaithfulUK that Trey will be QB1 next season, no matter what happens this year.
Haha, more comparables to us. Our QB situation was a never-ending story, luckily that seems to be shifting now but I understand your pain. Good to see that you guys also believe in your guy though. The more that comes out, the more that we learn our old coach didn’t do that. Luckily Coach Mike is bringing his trust in Tua to the foreground, and that is bringing the best out of QB1.
We find ourselves 8-3 and 8-0 in games where Tua have played an entire game. We feel optimistic that with him at the helm and with Tyreek Hill and Waddle making dangerous plays on a regular basis, that we can make a push this year.
What’s the San Francisco opinion on our Dolphins? Do you think our optimism is justified, or are we merely riding a wave that could come crashing down?
We are aware that you are a good football team, and we certainly don’t feel that your record flatters to deceive. You have proven talent on both sides of the ball, and from the outside looking in you appear to be well coached and have adapted well to McDaniel, his mantra and his coaching staff. You are certainly a team I enjoy watching on red zone and this Sunday should be a cracker of a game to be honest.
Love that, obviously as you are saying nice things haha. But after years of the opposite, it is nice to hear teams talking about us like that. So you talk about proven talent, so who are you guys worried about from our roster? What names are standing out?
The obvious names are Tyreek Hill, Waddle, Raheem – the speedsters, we also tend to struggle against mobile QB’s and Tua has shown he can use his legs. On the defensive side, we have already faced Bradly Chubb once this season & I am not looking forward to seeing him again! I have always been a fan of Xavien Howard & you gave Ogbah a 65m four-year deal in the summer for a reason! Obviously Byron Jones (achilles) is a huge miss for you guys, and this has shown as you don’t appear to be blitzing as much as you did last year. I have also been impressed with Melvin Ingram on the defensive side of the ball.
Byron Jones is a funny one. Obviously, he will be a big miss for us… but also… we haven’t seen him all year and we don’t seem likely to have him back any time soon. So it’s kind of like, we have stopped missing him, we have played all season without him. Ogbah, is now on IR so it makes the Bradley Chubb acquisition all the more important and in the last couple of weeks Jaelen Phillips looks to have found a renewed lease of life too, so yeah, some good names to pick out for sure.
Now we’ve talked about your QB situation and there are obvious HUGE names in the team. McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk to name a few, and that’s just offense, we haven’t even got to Bosa and that defense.
So there’s MANY names we are aware of and should be scheming for. But who is going under the radar? Who are the Dolphins fans NOT talking about but that we should be and who could cause us issues come Sunday?
The obvious one is Juan Jennings who is quickly becoming our go to guy on third down & snagged the only TD vs the saints. Our offensive line is also a big part of what we do, and Trent Williams has shown why he is the best LT in the game.
On the defensive side of the ball, Mooney Ward who we picked up in free agency has been impressive, as has Hufunga who I must admit I was slightly concerned about heading into the season, but man has he proved me wrong! He gets better and better each week. Whilst Nick Bosa is well Nick Bosa, for me Fred Warner has been the MVP of the defence and has been back to his All Pro Fred standard, proving to be the best in the league at his position! (in my humble opinion)
Ryans has done an immense job with our defence, but after the humbling loss at home to the chiefs, it will be interesting to see how he prepares for another high powered offence this week.
Jeeeesus, you really do have stars all over the field don’t you! What a roster, your GM must have nuts the size of grapefruits knowing he has put that roster together! It will be a fantastic test for our young roster, and a fantastic measuring stick of where we are at.
We’re on a winning run right now, with Tua playing lights out stuff at the moment. Blowing the Texans out 30-0 in the first half before sitting a lot of our starters after producing a dominant display against the Browns.
That said, on the road, we have not looked the same defensively. Is there anywhere specific that you think you guys will target when trying to beat us? Do you see a weakness in our roster that you can get at?
This is a game that I circled on the calendar as soon as the schedule was released. Shanahan going up against McDaniel has Master vs Apprentice vibes & they will clearly know each other well. That said, I believe the key match-up will be our Defence vs your offense. Ryan has been great at making the in-game adjustments needed this season, and I believe that he will have the right game plan in place to face the challenges your dolphins pose. It will be interesting to see how Tua copes with the pressure that will be coming and I can’t wait to see Mooney Ward match up against Hill.
The 49ers are a very physical football team on both sides of the ball, and I feel this will be evident on Sunday. I also believe that whichever side can establish the run on Sunday will be the key, and we have every confident that Kyle will be looking to exploit what he may see as a weakness as I believe your OL is ranked 12th in run blocking. We will also need to limit the “BIG” plays to Hill and Waddle, as this is what caused us issues vs the Chiefs. Also, our Defence is on a 4 game streak of shutting out the opposition in the second half, and we would love to see that extended to five games on Sunday!
Well, if you want an omen in that kind of field, the TEXANS shut us out in the second half just last week!! In fairness, we had put up 30 points by halftime with both offensive and defensive scores and with Tua, Tyreek, Waddle, and Armstead rested or out of the game for the majority of that second half. But still, it’s something you guys could look at as a good sign perhaps.
I wouldn’t necessarily worry about the big plays either. We are not hitting massive plays on a regular basis. What we do seem to kill teams with is just how fast Tyreek and Waddle get into the secondary. Their speed getting into that depth, and Tua’s fantastic quick release means we can attack those middle-distance, centre-of-the-field routes and move the chains quickly and effectively without needing to break 30+ yards in splash plays. That’s been a feature of Coah Mike and Tua’s attack this term.
Now, if we are going to beat you, what areas of your play and scheme should we be targeting? Where do you feel you are weakest, making the most mistakes, missing the most players or whatever? What areas of the game would you be concerned about if we started to pick at it?
I have to admit, this was my least favorite part of the article! I tend to be know as the positive voice on the 49erFaithfulUK pod, so I had to sit down and think about this! Jimmy G is prone to being, well Jimmy G! It is well known why the 49ers gave you guys three first-round picks to trade up for Trey. Admittedly Jimmy has been playing well, he hasn’t had many “Jimmy-ism’s” as we call them (and turned the ball over) & we do have issues on our OL which could be exploited by Chubb. On the defensive side of the ball, we have lost our preferred cornerback Emmanuel Moseley & the position hasn’t been locked down by Lenoir or Womack. That said, this has been covered well by our front seven, solid safety trio & the recent second shutouts of teams suggests its only a minor weakness. Also, we have struggled in the red zone at times, so that could be an issue especially if your offense is firing on all cylinders Sunday.
Oh ok, so for all the highlight reel guys you have, there are some things we could get at. I suppose you can’t roster 53 Trent Williams calibre players after all. I’d be thrilled if you guys put all your resources in Bradley Chubb and I think that will be an underrated aspect of his signing. He will buy people like Phillips, Wilkins, Sieler more freedom at times and if you have OLine issues, then that could be an area we look to exploit.
For us, we now have the main man back, QB1 Tua Tagovailoa and he is playing well. Do the fans in San Francisco have any specific opinion on him? He was building a head of steam before missing the games he missed, and has come back better than ever. Do you guys think he can continue this form, or have we seen him peak?
He has been a lot better than expected to be honest. He has been among the league’s most accurate QBs with a 69.7 percent completion rate & he has impressed with the way he has been attacking opposing defenses. He also has the longest active streak of consecutive pass attempts without an interception (174) with Jimmy (137) second. Personally, we would love to see Jimmy overtake Tua in this metric on Sunday! That said, looking at the schedule the final six games certainly won’t be easy for the dolphins, especially as Tua has raised expectations with his play so far, but i do believe you guys will be there or there about at the end of the season.
Is Jimmy second in that particular stat line is he? Honestly didn’t realize that. That brings another fascinating comparable for Sunday. What an interesting matchup this could be, one for the fans, one for the neutrals, one for the nerds, this has the makings of chess match style precision and strategy.
So how do you see it playing out? What’s your prediction for the final outcome?
I feel this will be a be a close match-up, and very entertaining! I am going for a 49ers win as I feel we have the better defense & the fact that we are at home (and you guys are traveling across country) & I am going for a 27-24 win. GO NINERS!
A tough a test as we’ve faced, certainly since Tua’s injury. A road game makes me nervous, our defense hasn’t been the same beast on the road, as they have at home. So while I hope they have figured out some of those issues, it does have me a little concerned.
Score wise, I don’t know exactly where to place it. Will two teams go to attack, or will two teams strategically try and work over each other. Whatever it is, I do feel it comes down to the last drive of the game. Rather than ending with a kick though, more likely a team pushing in that two minutes to get the winning points but falling short when it counts. I just hope that is you guys when all is said and done.
Neck on the line… I’m going 28 – 23, in favor of Miami.
I think I have made it clear. This is a big game and the biggest test in weeks. Perhaps of our season, given the scenario and the form and records etc.
But we have played good stuff recently. We absolutely should not fear San Francisco. We should take them seriously, we should work our asses off and we will need to play good, efficient and clean football. But fearful? Hell no.
We want playoff football, we want to win the AFC East, we want to win the AFC Championship, we want a Superbowl. To get any of those things, you have to win your biggest and toughest match ups. The ones that do that, win. The ones that don’t, go home.
So now it’s time for our Dolphins to put those doubters to rest, on prime time. I don’t think ANY of those 2022 Dolphins are preparing for an early home time this season!