In February, the San Francisco 49ers were 10 minutes away from capturing their sixth Super Bowl championship. After Sunday’s thrashing defeat to the Miami Dolphins, the 49ers looked nothing like an organization who could even buy tickets to the biggest game of the year, let alone play in it.
For the second week in a row, San Francisco was defeated on its home field. But unlike the five-point loss to Philadelphia, Sunday’s 43-17 defeat to Miami left the 49er faithful wondering if this was going to be the new normal for the rest of the 2020 season.
Heading into Sunday’s game, it seemed as if San Francisco’s offense would get a major shot in the arm. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Raheem Mostert were back on the field for the first time in three games, and for the first time all season, the 49ers had all of their offensive weapons. While Mostert rushed for 90 yards on 11 carries, Garoppolo played not only the worst game of his time with San Francisco, but perhaps the worst game of his career.
Garoppolo, who may still be feeling the lingering effects from a high-ankle sprain, was replaced to begin the third quarter after going 7 for 17 for 77 yards with two costly interceptions. Garoppolo’s replacement, CJ Bethard didn’t do much better, going 9 for 18 for 94 yards and one touchdown.
Both quarterbacks were under constant pressure from the Miami defense the entire game. San Francisco’s offensive line – although healthy, has continued to struggle – gave up five sacks and didn’t offer much in the way of pass protection.
And while no 49er quarterback had any time to throw, the same could not be said for Miami’s Ryan Fitzpatrick. The 37-yearold quarterback had a day that would make Dan Marino jealous, throwing for 350 yards and three touchdowns, while completing 22 of 28 passes.
It was obvious from the first throw who Fitzpatrick had picked on the 49er defense: cornerback Brian Allen. For most 49er fans, the name Brian Allen is not a familiar one and nor should it be. Due to a thinned-out secondary, Allen was promoted from the practice squad to a starting role on Saturday. Fitzpatrick attacked Allen the majority of the first half and as a result, Allen was finally replaced in the third quarter.
San Francisco’s revolving door of defensive backs, along with no pass rush, made Sunday’s game feel like a game from the early Kyle Shanahan era. And the 43 points scored by Miami were the most any 49er team has surrendered in a home stadium (Levi’s Stadium or Candlestick Park) since 2009.
The 49ers are now 2-3 with a losing record and transmission into the difficult part of their schedule. Most would have bet that after five games San Francisco would have been 5-0 or 4-1. But with a 2-3 record and a dreadfully difficult remaining schedule, a lot needs to change in order to return to the postseason.
San Francisco’s next seven games will be against the Los Angeles Rams, New England, Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans, the Rams again and Buffalo. Of those teams, not one has a losing record and after Sunday, Seattle, Green Bay and Buffalo are all without losses. There’s a strong chance that the 49ers could go that entire stretch without a victory and might not have a chance to win a game until Dec. 13 against Washington.
The 49ers will do their best to stop this two-game skid, but in doing so must beat the Rams this week on Sunday Night Football. The Rams are 3-1 and coming off a 30-10 road victory over Washington. If the 49ers hope to win, they need to figure out their issues in the secondary, put pressure on quarterback Jeff Goff, and try to slow down all-pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald from living in the backfield.
Even with all that, it doesn’t seem likely that San Francisco will beat Los Angeles. Predicted score: Rams 34, 49ers 20.