The Tape Don't Lie: Miami Dolphins lose to San Francisco 49ers, a Review

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The Dolphins played poorly in a 33-17 loss at the 49ers on Sunday.

Tua Tagovailoa seemed off for most of the game.

Miami's defense did not do enough to stop a 7th-round rookie quarterback, Brock Purdy.

Miami coach Mike McDaniel felt some players were "pressing" but that they will benefit from having been through an experience on that big stage.

Well, the stage gets even bigger and the spotlight even brighter over the next two weeks.

Sunday night, NBC, at the Chargers.

Saturday night, NFL Network, at the Bills.

Miami needs to get settled emotionally because this is a tough two-game sled.

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But before we start to dig into all that is Tua-Herbert and Tua-Allen, and yes, there are more than just the quarterbacks to discuss, let's take a look back at the 49ers loss.

Many coaches believe "The Tape Don't Lie," and that list includes McDaniel.

"The game tape survives time," McDaniel says.

Here are some things we noticed in Miam's loss to San Francisco:

Tua's tough tape

Tua said it wasn't just inaccuracy but miscommunication that resulted in some bad tape.

Whatever it is, it was hard to watch and must be fixed.

The Dolphins and Tua will hope this was an aberration.

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After this game, Tua downplayed the notion that his misfires may have been the result of feeling emotionally charged or extra juiced for the game because of its gravity.

But on Monday, Mike McDaniel said he felt some players were pressing. It's hard to think Tua wasn't pressing at least a bit at some points during this game.

Miami Dolphins players celebrate after a touchdown pass from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) to wide receiver Trent Sherfield, left, during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)
Miami Dolphins players celebrate after a touchdown pass from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) to wide receiver Trent Sherfield, left, during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

One thing was showed up was a lack of cohesion with running back Jeff Wilson, who has only been around a few weeks. Missing all those spring and summer reps can pay a price and lead to incompletions and/or interceptions.

Did Miami's receivers run some routes that weren't precise and sharp? That seems to have been the case as well.

Solid offensive line performance

The Dolphins' offensive line held its own against a very, very good 49ers' defensive front.

This was encouraging, actually.

Brandon Shell has not been an enormous problem at right tackle and Greg Little was not an enormous problem at left tackle on Sunday.

Obviously it would be a tremendous boost if Terron Armstead was able to play through pectoral and toe injuries on Sunday.

Armstead's experience goes beyond what he does on Sundays. It impacts the entire offensive line and offense.

At times Sunday Tagovailoa seemed a bit skittish. And to be fair, Nick Bosa did sack him three times and made a habit of going at Tua's legs and ankles, which is lame.

But it does seem Tua feels a lot more comfortable with Armstead on the field. And for this, we do not blame him.

Jerome Baker as a blitzer

Baker blitzed Jimmy Garoppolo on the first-quarter sack by he and Jaelan Phillips that knocked out the 49ers' quarterback. And Baker blitzed from the edge a bunch more, too.

It feels like Baker's blitzing skills have been a bit underutilized this season. But according to Pro Football Reference, Baker is actually second on the team with 30 blitzes, trailing only Phillips.

The thing is Baker is listed as having zero quarterback hurries and only five pressures. By comparison, for example, Phillips has 19 pressures and four hurries.

Baker seems to have come on the last two weeks. Perhaps he'll start to capitalize on blitzes more often, like he did last season.

McDaniel's hutzpah

It should have been obvious entering this season that Mike McDaniel was going to be very aggressive in going for it on fourth downs.

McDaniel is the eternal optimist and so he believes that Miami is going to convert that 4th-and-1 from the Miami 19, down only six points with more than nine minutes to play.

After the game, McDaniel said he had a play he really liked. And it was a good one. Tua hit Tyreek Hill but could have also completed a pass to Alec Ingold or ran for it.

McDaniel also said he's fully aware of the criticism that would come his way if Miami had failed in that spot, but that he can't make decisions based on that criticism.

I personally would have punted in that spot, considering Miami is supposed to have a Top-10 defense and would have been trying to hold down a rookie 7th-round quarterback.

But in general, I would rather have a coach who leans toward aggressive as opposed to fearful. Even if it doesn't work all the time, the psychological benefit for the players when McDaniel goes for it there is enormous.

Here's hoping McDaniel has a few other 4th-and-1 calls he really, really likes to pull out against the Chargers and Bills.

Dolphins will have Wilkins decision

Christian Wilkins is going to see a nice salary bump jump from about $4.9 million to about $10.7 million when he plays on the Dolphins' fifth-year option next season.

Could Miami extend Wilkins and make the cap hit in 2023 a bit more palatable? Well, sure.

Wilkins is living up to their projection and he improved from Season 2 to 3 and now is even better in Season 4.

Wilkins has been more disruptive, he's making more tackles, more tackles for loss and generally has just figured out how to make more plays in this defensive scheme.

Could Wilkins be looking at a future contract worth more than $14 million a season? Well, yeah.

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Will the Dolphins want to invest that much on a defensive lineman with 9.5 total sacks in nearly four years? Hard to say.

The Dolphins will need to pony up for other young stars at some point and will have to make some difficult choices. Those names are obvious. Miami would always hold the option for a Wilkins franchise tag in Year 6.

This & That

Zach Sieler continues to be one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the NFL.... In retrospect, Xavien Howard's fourth-down interception may have been harder to just knock down than it seemed initially. On Monday, Howard explained that he basically had to fight Brandon Aiyuk for the ball. Howard had good position. Recording his first interception one week after scoring a defensive touchdown should put Howard on track to close the season with five strong performances, starting with Keenan Allen and Stefon Diggs over the next two weeks... Miami has been on the short end of some dubious calls this season. Penalties to Kader Kohou, Melvin Ingram and Robert Hunt all seemed phantom-bogus-unfortunate on Sunday... There have been too many times this season where the Dolphins needed to make a stop on the opponents' final possession and couldn't get off the field. On a critical cut-back run by Christian McCaffrey with about three minutes to play, Elandon Roberts got tangled up inside and could not disengage a blocker to make the play. Bradley Chubb pursued too far up field to maintain an edge. And Sieler, who was excellent once against overall, was unfortunately aided to the ground by Trent Williams.

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Joe Schad is a journalist at the Palm Beach Post part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at jschad@pbpost.comHelp support our journalism. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: The Tape Don't Lie: Miami Dolphins lose to SF 49ers, Joe Schad