>br>SAN FRANCISCO – Once the 2012 NFL schedule came out in April it was clear to everyone that the toughest stretch of games for the Miami Dolphins were going to be in late November and early December. Tomorrow ends that stretch.
Miami faces a talented and deep San Francisco 49ers squad at Candlestick Park at 4:05 p.m., Eastern Standard Time on the heels of playing the first-place New England Patriots out of the AFC East and the Seattle Seahawks out of the NFC West. The Dolphins split those two games at Sun Life Stadium, edging Seattle by a field goal, 24-21, and falling to New England last Sunday, 23-16.
San Francisco has been established as a 10-point favorite based on its 8-3-1 record, the fact that it’s a home game and Miami had to travel across the country and because it boasts the league’s No. 2 defense. The Niners are tops in scoring defense, allowing just 14.2 points per game.
Second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick brings an added dimension to the offense for San Francisco with his athleticism and running ability, while former University of Miami running back Frank Gore is a bruiser. This will be the first time Gore has faced his hometown team as he was injured and did not play in the 2008 meeting in Miami.
Former Dolphins receiver Ted Ginn, Jr., also will be facing the team that selected him in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft for the first time since being traded to San Francisco in 2010. All of these storylines and more will make this a compelling game.
Five Things To Watch:
1. Dolphins rookie left tackle
2. How will Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle contend with the multiple looks San Francisco will throw at his defense – As much attention as the Niners’ defense gets, and rightfully so, their offense is quite stout as well. Thanks to Gore and Kaepernick, San Francisco ranks second behind only the Washington Redskins on the ground with an average of 162.1 yards per game and Kaepernick has four rushing touchdowns. When he’s not running, he has the arm strength and accuracy to connect with Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Michael Crabtree, so the Dolphins’ secondary has to manage tight coverage and the front seven cannot miss filling the gaps on running plays and tackle effectively. “When (Kaepernick’s) been in the games he’s thrown the ball accurately, so we’ve got to have good, tight coverage on receivers,” Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin said. “We have to make him get off maybe his first desired receiver and make him go progress to two and three if we can. And then the discipline of the rush lanes that we’ve talked about, because certainly if he doesn’t like what he sees from a pass game standpoint, he has good mobility as we know and he’s got some elusiveness in the open field. He’s got some speed, so yeah he’s a lot to handle. He’s off to a good start as a pro.”
3. What will Tannehill,
4. Will Dolphins defensive end
5. How much of a factor will be the weather be at Candlestick Park – This is one of the oldest stadiums in the NFL and being situated right on San Francisco Bay has made it susceptible to very wicked windy conditions in the past. The forecast for tomorrow calls for partly cloudy skies with zero percent chance of rain and winds from the north/northeast reaching 10 miles-per-hour. Temperatures are expected to reach a high of 66-degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 50, so that sounds like ideal conditions. But the unpredictable winds whipping off the waters of the bay can throw off a passing game and a kicking game in the blink of an eye. Dolphins punter