Winners and losers from Miami Dolphins disappointing loss to 49ers

Tua Tagovailoa Mike McDaniel Miami Dolphins
Tua Tagovailoa Mike McDaniel Miami Dolphins /

The Miami Dolphins suffered their first defeat since October 16 as the 49ers handily beat Miami, 33-17 on Sunday. With the loss, the Dolphins are now 8-4 and fall back to second place in the AFC East, a game behind the Buffalo Bills.

With five games left, including one more against Buffalo in a couple weeks, the Dolphins do still control their own destiny.

But looking back to Sunday, here are the players that shined — and the players that struggled in a bad loss to the Niners:

Winner: Tyreek Hill

If there was a game ball to give out for losses, this one goes to Tyreek.

Hill caught 9 balls for 146 yards and a touchdown in the losing effort, which saw Jaylen Waddle exit the game with a leg injury. No other Dolphin caught more than three passes, which made Tyreek’s performance that much more impressive.

Such a big game against what looks like far and away the league’s best defense makes Tyreek Hill a winner in my book.

Loser: Jeff Wilson Jr.

Jeff Wilson Jr. was looking like RB1 for the Dolphins since they traded for him a few weeks ago. Against his former team, the back only had one carry for three yards and failed to make a catch out of the backfield, despite being targeted twice.

Registering only one touch against the team that traded you away last month could not have made for a fun Sunday afternoon for Wilson Jr. In fact, the two former 49er running backs, Wilson Jr. and Raheem Mostert, only combined for 33 yards for the entire game for Miami.

Hopefully Wilson Jr. will have more than one touch moving forward, but that was a really discouraging outing for the running back who has shined so bright lately.

Winner: Christian Wilkins

When you look at the box score for this game, one name sticks out — Christian Wilkins.

Compiling 12 total tackles, including 8 solo tackles, to go along with a tackle for loss, Wilkins was all over the place for the Dolphins on Sunday. The Dolphins absolutely need that staple on the defensive line after injuries and new faces surround the depth chart.

Wilkins is playing the most snaps he’s ever played in his career lately and progressively looks more and more like the first-round pick he was supposed to be. When his rookie contract ends after the 2023 season, Wilkins may be in for a huge payday from Miami because of games like this.

Winner: Thomas Morstead

Honestly, it was hard finding a third winner for this list. It was that bad of a game on Sunday.

However, punters are people too and can always be considered a winner if they play well. Morstead punted 4 times for 206 yards, good for 51.5 yards per punt. That is a boot right there and in a closer game, field position could be the difference between a win or loss.

In the first quarter after going three-and-out on their second possession of the game, Morstead sent a punt into orbit from the Dolphins’ own 28-yard-line 63 yards to the Niners’ 9-yard-line. That flipping of field position could win the Dolphins some games down the line as the season comes to a close.

Loser: Tua Tagovailoa

For the first time this season, the Dolphins lost a game where Tua started the game and played the whole thing.

So, naturally, for the first time this season, Tua ends up as a loser on this list.

Tua’s MVP campaign took a big hit on Sunday as he struggled against a stout Niners defense. Tua only completed 18 of his 33 pass attempts for 295 yards. He did throw two touchdowns, but threw two pretty bad interceptions. Tua also took three sacks.

After his first pass attempt went 75 yards for a touchdown, Tua never really got the offense going and was only able to score 10 more points on the afternoon. It did not help Jaylen Waddle left the game with injury, but the offense just completely stalled way too many times.

It was a day to forget for Tua, who can hopefully bounce back and get his MVP campaign back on track against the reeling Los Angeles Chargers next weekend.

On a more positive note, Tua is only one of two quarterbacks to throw for 250+ yards and 2 touchdowns against the vaunted Niners defense. The other?

Honorable loser: Mike McDaniel

Like Jeff Wilson Jr., Raheem Mostert, and the few other former Niners, Mike McDaniel lost his “revenge game” against his former team.

On top of that, he was thoroughly outcoached by Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco coaching staff.

Why did the Dolphins only attempt eight rushes all game? How did McDaniel forget to scheme for containing Christian McCaffrey? How do you let a rookie seventh-rounder throw all over your defense and beat you?

It was an off-game for McDaniel, just like it was for Tua and a lot of other Dolphins. It was a game to forget and move on from, but hopefully they can take some takeaways from their lackluster showing on Sunday and come back better next weekend.

Fortunately, it sounds like McDaniel is owning up to his coaching mishaps on Sunday and is ready to move forward already: