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Week 14: Dolphins-49ers preview

The SportsXchange

Miami at San Francisco

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, at Candlestick Park, San Francisco - TV: CBS; DirecTV: 714

*TV announcers: Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf

*Keys to the game: Dolphins RBs Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas combined for just 20 carries last week, but need to be more involved in the game plan with the offensive line expected to be shuffled at both tackle positions due to Jake Long's injury. QB Ryan Tannehill's mobility also aids the ground game, but Dolphins coach Joe Philbin wants the rookie to limit some of the big hits he exposes himself to by not sliding. Tannehill completed just 13 passes last week and admitted he had poor fundamentals on a few missed opportunities. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh intends to stick with QB Colin Kaepernick despite the second-year player's struggles in his third career start last week. Kaepernick made two big errors in the loss to the Rams, but his mobility continues to provide an extra element defenses must contend with. RB Brandon Jacobs managed just six yards on four carries last week, and San Francisco has to be concerned about the backup spot following Kendall Hunter's season-ending injury.

*Matchup to watch - Dolphins LT Jonathan Martin vs. 49ers OLB Aldon Smith: The Dolphins' rookie second-round pick is expected to slide over from the right side to make his first career start protecting Tannehill's blind side. The assignment couldn't be tougher. Smith has already tied Fred Dean's single-season franchise record with 17.5 sacks and leads the NFL. Long hasn't been playing at a Pro Bowl level, but he is considered a leader on the offense and his presence would be sorely missed against an aggressive and complex front seven.

*Player spotlight - Dolphins TE Charles Clay: After catching six passes in Week 12, Clay added two catches for 26 yards against New England last week. His role continues to increase along with his knowledge of the offense.

*Fast facts: Miami allowed just 10 rushing yards in the first half against New England last week. ... Smith has 31.5 sacks in 28 career regular-season games, an NFL record for a player through his first two seasons.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Colin Kaepernick suffered a minor hiccup in his third career start last week, but coach Jim Harbaugh remains unwavering in his support. Kaepernick rights the ship by extending plays with his feet and attacking a defense allowing 257.7 passing yards per game.

*Our pick: 49ers 24-13

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