When the Miami Dolphins travel cross-country to face off against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, there are a select few guys on both teams who have a chance to make a huge game impact. Who will step up in a big way for their teams and will it be enough?
49ers Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo:
Garoppolo is the first guy on the list because of his impact for the 49ers. His teammates have missed his experience, his arm and his football I.Q. as he helps lead the offense, but they get him back on Sunday after a minor absence due to injury. The former New England Patriot backup QB blossomed into a Super Bowl contending signal caller and he looks to get another shot at a ring. This season Garopollo threw touchdowns in each of his first two games before going down with his ankle injury. Defenses have proven to struggle with defending his passing ability, especially to tight end George Kittle. Garoppolo also gets wide receiver Deebo Samuel back in a more expanded fashion to help the receiving game.
Dolphins Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick:
Fitzpatrick has a lot to improve on this weekend and build some more consistency. He needs to have a strong game offensively where he does not throw any interceptions and sees the field more effectively. So far this season, Fitzpatrick has more INTs than passing TDs and has doomed his team in some key situations with turnovers that have been strong contributors to three games already lost this year for Miami. Playing one of the best defenses can fuel Fitzpatrick to bring out that Fitzmagic that got them the win against Jacksonville a couple of weeks back.
Dolphins Wide Receiver DeVante Parker:
Coming into the season, Parker was going to be counted on to be the No. 1 WR for this young Dolphins team. So far, his stats have not shown what he is capable of doing on the field despite multiple games with double digit targets. Last season Parker proved he was a NFL WR capable of going for more than 1,000 yards and was one TD away from double-digit scores. But through four games he has just one TD on 24 catches. His inability to score the football could turn around if he is able to find himself open during Sunday’s matchup. With San Francisco’s defensive woes this can happen. He needs to find the separation and rely on his teammates to finally appear as threats and draw coverage away from him. If Parker starts scoring the 49ers may be in trouble. Be on the lookout for him.
49ers Running Back Jerick McKinnon:
McKinnon has done a good job of being an effective running back for the 49er offense after multiple backs have been out due to injuries. McKinnon has carried the ball 34 times for 193 yards and scored three times so far this season. Averaging more than five yards per carry, he should be able to take advantage of a poor Dolphins rush defense. Even if RB Raheem Mostert is back, he likely won’t be at 100-percent and RBs have thrashed Miami all year. Keeping him from the endzone will be one of the key factors for the Dolphin defense, so be on the lookout how he’s implemented on Sunday.
Dolphins Running Back Myles Gaskin:
The young Dolphins RB has had a strong start to the 2020 season in terms of rushing. He has rushed 48 times for 192 yards – a mark well on the way to making Miami’s run game somewhat respectable again if he keeps it up. However, he has no rushing scores, something we’d like to see change. Gaskin is surely a surprise as the starter after bringing in two veterans in the offseason, but his ability to attack the creases and find holes has earned him the job. He has been the primary rusher for the Dolphins and head coach Brian Flores said he is going to stick with him. Getting Gaskin going is critical so he can open up Fitzpatrick’s passing game.
Honorable mention: Miami veteran RB Matt Breida is returning to face his old team on Sunday and could have strong duties as the Dolphins’ pass-catching back than in recent weeks. He knows their defense and should be able to beat them. However, that means the defense also knows him and with Breida’s lack of involvement so far this year and him teetering as the No. 3 RB, it’s tough to say whether he’ll truly be the team’s difference maker on Sunday.