While the 49ers may not be built to play from behind, they got close to a comeback in the 4th quarter of today’s game against the Dolphins, leaving fans looking for silver linings and coming up just two yards short.
The story of the day was Colin Kaepernick. Greeted by boos from a Miami crowd in the wake of a controversial exchange with a reporter, the 49ers quarterback came onto the field anything but fazed and delivered his best performance of the season.
Kaepernick spread the ball to his maligned receiver corps, ending the day 29-for-46 for 296 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception, and connecting with 9 different receivers in the process. With 11:31 remaining, the game looked a lot like the 9 losses that preceded it, but the offense provided a surprising spark. Down 31-14 and needing an answer, Kap led the San Francisco offense on an eight play touchdown drive, converting a 3rd-and-goal for 6 points off a one-handed Torrey Smith catch on a fade route. A field goal by Uncle Phil trimmed the Miami lead to 7 and the 49ers found themselves with a chance to tie the game with less than two minutes on the clock.
Hope wasn’t enough to will the final drive into the end zone as time expired. After running for 113 yards, Kaepernick was stopped at the Dolphins’ 2-yard line, with solid coverage by the Miami secondary forcing him to futilely scramble for the tying score as the clock hit zero. In what was his most impressive day on the ground in the past two seasons, a failed attempt at a rushing touchdown to save the game was a bitter pill to swallow
Tannehill finished the day 20-for-30 for 285 yards and three touchdowns, highlighting glaring issues in the secondary. Miami has a lot of talent for Tannehill to use, but sluggish performances and poor angles in coverage cost the 49ers in the second half. Antoine Bethea continued his lackluster 2016 campaign, giving up a 43 yard touchdown to Kenny Stills on a 3rd-and-3. Rashard Robinson was the lone star of the defensive backs, limiting Devante Parker on several big plays including a near-touchdown.
The biggest surprise on defense was against the run. Coming into the game, Miami running back Jay Ajayi was averaging 5.6 yards per carry this season, and his average hadn’t dipped below 4.2 yards per carry during the Dolphins’ five game winning streak. In the three home games during that streak he’s averaged 176.3 yards per game. Ajayi only managed 45 yards and a touchdown today for 2.5 yards per carry, as the run defense continues to improve with the return of Glenn Dorsey.
With 2016’s losing streak reaching a franchise record ten games as the 49ers head to Chicago, Chip Kelly is looking at his last chance at a truly winnable game. If the draft day implications of a win leaves you with mixed emotions, do yourself a favor and start Kap in your fantasy league.