This could define the rest of Colin Kaepernick’s season. A win, and he keeps his job. Another loss, or even worse, a loss with mistakes similar to the ones he had in St. Louis last week and at the very least the controversy Jim Harbaugh fervently denies will take on a life of its own. Fortunately for the Niners, I think controversy will be averted and Kaepernick will respond with a strong showing in front of the CandleStick faithful.
If the Niners are going to win this game, they’re going to need a strong outing from Kaepernick. The Dolphins rush defense ranks 8th in the league, and the duo of Soliai and Starks are starting to really make a name for themselves in the middle, terrorizing offensive lines across the league.
In an effort to counter the Dolphins strong play from the two defensive tackles, they could run a little more plays to the outside. Taking this into account, it might be best to give LaMichael James the bulk of the backup work, but Harbaughs done little to indicate the diminutive back out of Oregon will receive much if any playing time. If Harbaugh sticks with his guns, and uses Jacobs and Gore exclusively, I don’t see the Niners getting a lot done on the ground. Don’t be all that surprised if Kaepernick leads them in rushing yards.
With the Dolphins defensive line playing as well as they have been, Kaepernick should get more than enough opportunities to state his case to keep the starting job. The path to the victory for the Niners will be through the air. In similar fashion to another Florida team (see the Buccaneers) the Dolphins are as bad in defending the pass, as they are good in defending the run. They like to keep three safeties on the field, and can be easily exploited in the short passing game. Whoever winds up playing the slot should have themselves a day.
Barring a complete meltdown by Kaepernick, I can’t see any reason why the Niners can’t win this game. They play better on offense, on defense, and even in special teams. Best of all for the Niners, it’s also at home. I like the Niners to win this game 24-17.