Maiocco's Instant Replay: 49ers 27, Dolphins 13


Maiocco's Instant Replay: 49ers 27, Dolphins 13

SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers' offense sputtered for most of three quarters in Colin Kaepernick's fourth start at quarterback.

But the 49ers maintained their 1 1/2-game lead in the NFC West on Sunday due to a strong performance from the defense and a key takeaway on special teams.

The 49ers don't get many style points for their 27-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins at Candlestick Park

The 49ers (9-3-1) can clinch a spot in the NFC playoffs next week with a victory over the New England Patriots. The 49ers finish the season at the Seattle Seahawks and at home against the Arizona Cardinals. The Seahawks remain 1 1/2-games behind the 49ers in the division standings with a blowout victory over the Cardinals on Sunday.

Kaepernick had a solid statistical day, completing 18 of 23 passes for 185 yards and adding a 50-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. But the 49ers had a difficult time converting on third downs and the game remained tight into the second half.

But the Dolphins had a lot more difficulty moving the ball against the 49ers.

The 49ers' big break came early in the third quarter when Dolphins return man Marcus Thigpen muffed an Andy Lee punt. C.J. Spillman recovered at the Miami 9-yard line.

Anthony Dixon gained 8 yards around the left side. Then, Frank Gore carried it into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown to give the 49ers a 13-3 lead with 11:17 remaining in the third quarter.

Gore tied the franchise record of 50 rushing touchdowns, a mark he now shares with Hall of Fame running back Joe Perry and Roger Craig. Perry had 68 rushing touchdowns with the 49ers, but 18 came when the 49ers played in the All-America Football Conference. The team does not recognize statistics in the non-NFL games that 49ers played from 1946 to 1949.

Gore also eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the sixth time in his eight-year career.

Gore's 19-yard gain on the first play of the fourth quarter set up Anthony Dixon for a 1-yard touchdown run to give the 49ers a 20-6 lead with 14:27 remaining. The play capped a 13-play, 83 yard drive that took 7 minutes and 26 seconds.

FIRST-HALF FIELD GOALS: A lackluster first half ended with a bizarre sequence of plays and the 49ers settled for David Akers' 37-yard field goal to take a 6-3 lead on the final play before the intermission.

The 49ers had a first down at the 11-yard line, but a mix-up in protection left Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake with a clear path to Kaepernick for his third sack of the game.

LaMichael James was stopped for a 2-yard loss on second down, and with the clock winding down, Kaepernick's incomplete throw out of bounds barely left enough time for Akers' kick.

Earlier, Akers hit from 30-yards out. The Dolphins scored their only points of the first half on Dan Carpenter's 28-yard field goal. Later in the third quarter, Carpenter nailed a 53-yard field goal.

SMITH SETS MARK: Outside linebacker Aldon Smith took over sole possession of the 49ers' single-season sack record. Smith ran over Miami Dolphins rookie left tackle Jonathan Martin to pick up sack No. 18.5 of the season. Smith previously shared the 49ers franchise record of 17.5 sacks with Hall of Famer Fred Dean (1983).

Smith leads the NFL in sacks. He is four sacks behind Michael Strahan for the NFL single-season record, which Strahan set in 2001.

With 32.5 sacks in his first two seasons, Smith has more sacks in his first two seasons than any player since the NFL began keeping sack statistics in 1982.

ROOKIE DEBUTS: James and receiver A.J. Jenkins made their NFL debuts on Sunday. James got the call as an active player when the 49ers decided to deactivate veteran Brandon Jacobs, while Jenkins got onto the field for limited action with Mario Manningham out with a shoulder injury.

James carried the ball eight times for 30 yards and added a 15-yard reception, while Jenkins didn't record a catch.

Jacobs was not among the 49ers' active players. Jacobs has been outspoken in recent days via social media against 49ers coaches, his playing time and the team's fans.

Jacobs was seen prior to kickoff talking with 49ers general manager Trent Baalke on the field. The two men had a brief chat, and Baalke concluded it with what appeared to be an encouraging tap on Jacobs' chest.

THIS 'N' THAT: Defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs sustained what appeared to be a serious right knee injury in the second quarter. He was carted into the locker room and was immediately ruled out for the game. Dobbs is the only 49ers player who has a role on each of the 49ers' special-teams units. He returned to action after missing a game for being arrested on suspicion of DUI and alleged marijuana possession. . . The 49ers entered the game with six consecutive victories at home against AFC opponents. The 49ers outscored the opposition 146-44 in those games and did not surrender a touchdown in four of those games. . . . In the five previous games in which the 49ers lost the previous game in the Jim Harbaugh era, the 49ers did not allow a touchdown. The 49ers lost to the St. Louis Rams last week. The Dolphins got into the end zone on tight end Anthony Fasano's 3-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Ryan Tannehill with 7:55 remaining in the fourth quarter.

49ers' Kaepernick shoulders blame: 'I have to be better'

49ers' Kaepernick shoulders blame: 'I have to be better'

SANTA CLARA – Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s second start of the season played out in similar fashion to his first appearance of the season a week ago in Buffalo.

Again, Kaepernick had more success running, and the 49ers’ last-ranked pass offense came in under its season average.

“I have to be better,” Kaepernick said following the 49ers’ 34-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before a sparse and largely disinterested gathering at Levi's Stadium.

Kaepernick completed fewer than 50 percent of his attempts for a second week in a row. He hit on 16 of 34 attempts for 143 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

“That’s not going to win in the NFL,” Kaepernick said. “We have to be able to do better on that and ultimately, we have to string this together as a team and play well as a team for 60 minutes to get wins.”

[MAIOCCO: Kelly: No changes to 49ers defensive staff after loss]

Kaepernick made his second start after replacing Blaine Gabbert, who started the 49ers’ first five games of the season. The club has now lost six consecutive games, the franchise’s longest losing streak since 2008.

Kaepernick rushed for a team-high 84 yards on nine attempts, but the 49ers’ offense sputtered after a strong start. The 49ers scored touchdowns on two of their first four possessions, before closing shop for the day.

“I think it was up and down,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said of Kaepernick’s performance. “I wish there was one thing that you could just put your finger on and say, ‘Hey, it’s this.’ He obviously kept some things alive and kept some drives alive with his legs.

“They were playing a little bit more man coverage than we thought. Coming into the game they hadn’t played that much man, but they started off playing a lot of man. So, obviously, he can beat them (scrambling) when they are playing man coverage and everybody is locked up and now there is nobody responsible for the quarterback.”

The 49ers opened the game with a five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Later in the first quarter, the 49ers cashed in quickly after Gerald Hodges’ interception. Kaepernick found running back Shaun Draughn in the front left corner of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown pass.

“It comes down to execution, not shooting ourselves in the foot and making plays,” Kaepernick said. “On our two touchdown drives, we had players making plays on the field and we have to be able to continually do that throughout the game because defenses are talented. Things are going to be close and we have to be able to make those plays and that’s ultimately what’s going to be the difference in these games.”

Now, the 49ers head into the bye week with a 1-6 record. The 49ers face the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 6.

“It’s not a position we want to be in,” Kaepernick said. “We work hard every week, we go through our preparation, we’re on top of everything but we have to go out and execute better. Where our record is right now, we have a bye week coming up. We can get some corrections, get some people healthy, come back and try to make a home stretch run.”

Kelly: No changes to 49ers defensive staff after loss

Kelly: No changes to 49ers defensive staff after loss

SANTA CLARA – The search for answers will continue during the 49ers’ bye week. But coach Chip Kelly said he has already concluded he will make no changes to the defensive staff.

The 49ers surrendered 513 yards of total offense to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Levi’s Stadiium. The Buccaneers, who entered the game with the league's 27th-ranked run game, rushed for 249 yards in their 34-17 victory over the 49ers.

Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil has come under fire, but Kelly told reporters he is not looking to make any changes to his staff. Kelly said he already spends ample time with O’Neil on a weekly basis.

"We spend time together during the week," Kelly said. "We carve out time in terms of how we watch film and what we do and understand the plan as we’re moving forward. There’s good communication going on form that standpoint. It’s not like I don’t know what’s going on on the defensive side of the ball.”

Defensive players in the 49ers’ locker room expressed confidence in O’Neil’s scheme.

“I love this scheme,” safety Eric Reid said. “If everybody does their job, we shouldn’t get beat. But whenever there’s an explosive play, somebody is out of position. We just got to tighten up.”

Said defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, “We have a great scheme and we have the guys to fit the scheme that he’s trying to run for us. Everybody individually, including myself, just needs to do better.”

Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, who left the game in the third quarter with a high-ankle sprain, expressed a view of the team’s defensive players that was more than a bit optimistic.

“We have the team,” Lynch said. “We possibly have one of the best teams in the NFL, easily. Hands down. We need to know how to keep finishing games and work together throughout the whole game. Once we get that down, nobody’s going to be able to mess with us.”

The 49ers rank last in the NFL in rushing defense. The 49ers gave up 561 yards rushing in the past two games, the worst back-to-back weeks in franchise history.

Buccaneers running back Jacquizz Rodgers was the latest player to feast on the 49ers' defense. Rodgers rushed for a career-high 154 yards on 26 carries to become the sixth consecutive opponent to gain more than 100 yards on the 49ers.

“Of course, I am frustrated with it,” 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks said. “You play this game to win. When we give up points the way that we do, the way we give up yards, it is just unacceptable. It is frustrating.

“Anything is fixable. I just think that the guys that get double-teamed maybe have to do a better job at taking on the double-team. I know that is difficult, but that is what we signed up for. The guys that are getting doubled have to be able to get off those double-teams and just try to do a better job.”