The 49ers play the Dolphins Sunday at Candlestick. In the meantime, I’ll break down five key matchups.
DC Kevin Coyle vs. Jim Harbaugh, Greg Roman, John Morton and Geep Chryst
The 49ers offensive brain trust got embarrassed last week by Jeff Fisher.
Kevin Coyle is no Fisher, but you can bet Coyle will try to duplicate what Fisher accomplished against the 49ers on Sunday.
The Rams stopped Frank Gore and Brandon Jacobs with their front seven. The Dolphins have a better run defense than the Rams (Miami is ranked No.8 against the run). The Dolphins are going to believe they can play the 49ers run game as a between-the-tackles attack with no outside threat. The Dolphins are going to believe they can stop it without committing an eighth defender to the effort.
That means they’re going to play a soft, two-deep zone and invite Kaepernick to check down, just like the Rams did.
The 49ers know what they’re going to face. That should make it easy for them to create a game plan to defeat it.
They’re probably not going to be able to start the game pounding Gore up the middle to open the rest of the offense. That didn’t work against the Rams.
The 49ers are going to have to free up the inside running game with the short passing game. That means Roman needs to use Crabtree and Vernon Davis as possession receivers. Roman should call hitch routes and slants early and often. The 49ers should be able to get at least six yards per pass easily and keep the chains moving.
Also, Roman is going to have to establish an outside running threat now that Kendall Hunter is out for the season. LaMichael James is the only viable option on the roster. Roman is a creative run game coordinator – look for him to get James involved on zone reads, fly sweeps and screens.