NBC Sports

What we learned in 49ers' embarrassing loss to Dolphins

NBC Sports

At 2:32 p.m., a slimmed-down Joe Staley opened his Twitter app to echo the thoughts of every 49ers fan:

“What the hell is this??!”

Staley, in his first season of retirement after a 13-year career with the 49ers, could not help himself from going public with an emotional reaction.

And who could blame him for that reaction? The 49ers got off to a slow start and never acted as if they belonged on the same field as the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

The Dolphins (2-3) crushed the 49ers (2-3) in every phase of the game in rolling up a 43-17 victory over the 49ers, who fell to 0-3 at their empty home this season.

Staley certainly had an empty feeling watching his former team flounder.

He pressed “send” after Jimmy Garoppolo’s second consecutive interception -- a pass he ballooned over Deebo Samuel and into the grateful hands of Miami safety Bobby McCain.

The interception, which came late in the first half, led to Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders knocking through a 50-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to give Miami a 30-7 lead.

Here are three takeaways from the 49ers' bewildering loss.

Garoppolo returns but benched at halftime

After sitting out the past 2 1/2 games with a high right ankle sprain, Garoppolo was counted on to help get the 49ers’ offense going and in rhythm for the difficult part of the team’s schedule.


Garoppolo is probably not completely healthy. But that’s no excuse. He was atrocious.

There were protection breakdowns that led to him absorbing three sacks in the first half. And he ended the first half with two bad -- really bad -- interceptions that led to a pair of field goals within the final minute of the second quarter.

Coach Kyle Shanahan told Fox Sports sideline reporter Lindsay Czarniak that he made the switch at the beginning of the second half to “protect” Garoppolo.

In one very bad half of football, Garoppolo completed seven of 17 pass attempts for 77 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

He was sacked three times for 23 yards, as the 49ers’ problems in pass protection continued.

C.J. Beathard entered and played the final two quarters of the blowout loss.

Allen’s no good, very bad day

It has been a weekly occurrence for the 49ers. They elevate one or more players from the practice squad and entrust him (or them) to play key roles the following day.

And such was the case this weekend, as the 49ers elevated cornerback Brian Allen. It did not go well. And that is an understatement.

The 49ers originally signed Allen to the practice squad on Sept. 13.

Allen played a combined 16 games with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017 and ’18 but did not see action in an NFL regular-season game in 2019.

Due to the rash of injuries to 49ers cornerback, Allen got the surprise start. Richard Sherman, Emmanuel Moseley and Dontae Johnson were unavailable. Ahkello Witherspoon, nursing a hamstring condition, was held out of the starting lineup.

Allen had a miserable day.

It started bad and only got worse.

He surrendered a 47-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Preston Williams on his first snap of the game.

Allen later was called for a horse-collar tackle that set up the Dolphins touchdown on the first drive of the game. He also gave up a 28-yard pass to DeVante Parker. He was called for pass interference, then gave up a 22-yard touchdown pass to Parker.

All within the first quarter-and-a-half of action.

That’s all it took.

After getting torched on Parker’s touchdown, the 49ers mercifully benched Allen and replaced him with Witherspoon with 7:35 remaining in the first half.

RELATED: Whitner torches 49ers' Saleh after Allen struggles vs. Dolphins


This was supposed to be easy?

Theoretically, the 49ers’ first five games of the season were expected to be among their half-dozen easiest matchups of the season.

It was imperative for the 49ers to get off to a strong start -- possibly with a 5-0 record -- before they start facing a weekly gauntlet of difficult competition.

Yeah, so much for that.

If the 49ers only won twice in their opening stretch against the Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Dolphins, how are they going to fare against stronger competition?

It does not look promising for the team that cruised through the NFC side of the playoff bracket and into the Super Bowl last season.


After all, the 49ers’ next six games are against the Los Angeles Rams, at the New England Patriots, at the Seattle Seahawks, at home against the Green Bay Packers, at the New Orleans Saints, at the Rams and at home against the Buffalo Bills.

The 49ers are in last place in the NFC West after five games. And they look nothing like a team capable of contending for a Super Bowl.

The so-called revenge tour is looking more like a search-and-rescue mission.