49ers defeat Dolphins but lose QB Jimmy Garoppolo for the season

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers against the Miami Dolphins (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers against the Miami Dolphins (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Shanahan’s victory over former assistant coach Mike McDaniel came at quite the cost—a second season-ending injury to the 49ers’ starting quarterback.

Sunday’s contest between two expected playoff-bound teams was highly anticipated for many reasons, from the battle of two top quarterbacks playing the best football of their respective careers in Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa and San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo, to the “revenge game” for many former 49ers currently on the Dolphins roster.

However, only the battle of wits between 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and his protégé and former assistant, Miami HC Mike McDaniel, came to fruition on Sunday.

The Niners’ defense—arguably the NFL’s best unit—was too much for Tagovailoa, and Garoppolo lasted just one drive before sustaining a season-ending injury.

“Jimmy G” was replaced by “Mr. Irrelevant,” rookie QB Brock Purdy, who received his first real taste of NFL action. Purdy did enough to put the Niners in position for their eighth victory of the season, and allowed Tagovailoa to implode in the final minutes, which quickly turned a one-score game into a 33-17 victory for the home team.

The pressing question after the game was the status of the Niners’ oft-injured quarterback, who exited the game due to a reported ankle injury that appeared to be severe. When Shanahan fielded questions from reporters about his starting signal-caller after the game, the 49ers’ HC stated Garoppolo was forced to leave the stadium in the third quarter and will undergo season-ending surgery as a result of a broken foot sustained on the play in question.

Shanahan reiterated that the team’s Week 1 starting quarterback, sophomore Trey Lance, will not be activated from Injured Reserve to replace Garoppolo, leaving the 49ers’ playoff future in the hands of the final selection from this year’s draft.

SF 49ers’ Brock Purdy experiment begins

Overall, Purdy performed exceptionally well for a player in his situation thrust into action against a formidable squad. In many ways, the essence of Brock Purdy was on full display, from his grit and his improvisation to his errant passes and his questionable decisions. In the end, his name was called, and he was ready to play, ending the day with 210 passing yards, two touchdowns, and one fourth-down interception.

Purdy completed 25 passes, yet none were longer than Garoppolo’s lone two completions. Shanahan also called his new QB’s number 40 times—a shocking number given Purdy’s lack of experience and success compared to that of his predecessor:

The most important thing Purdy did was outplay his counterpart Tagovailoa, although the 49ers’ defense played a major role. Led by potential Defensive Player of the Year, EDGE Nick Bosa, who tallied three sacks in key situations, including a strip-sack that was returned for a touchdown, the Niners’ defense turned Tua into a shell of his former self, as the pregame MVP-candidate turned the ball over three times, equaling his season total. If not for two mistakes by 49ers safeties, today’s game could have been the worst performance of the former No. 5 overall pick’s NFL career.

49ers-Dolphins rivalries

The pregame social media chatter between Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert and San Francisco’s star Deebo Samuel was all for naught, as neither of the former 49ers RBs had strong performances.

Mostert finished the contest with just 30 rushing yards, and RB Jeff Wilson had three yards on the ground and two failed targets through the air, one of which was intercepted by 49ers safety Jimmie Ward:

When the first offensive play of the game went for a 75-yard touchdown, all signs pointed toward a long day for Kyle Shanahan at the hands of the extremely-prepared offensive genius Mike McDaniel. However, McDaniel’s offense was unable to sustain drives or hold onto the ball against the Niners’ stout defense, managing just two drives in excess of four plays over the course of the game.

While Tagovailoa wasn’t himself—due to pressure or otherwise—Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers defeated the Miami Dolphins with a rookie seventh-round quarterback thrust into action under center.

So, score one for the teacher in a matchup with his student that will likely last for years to come. However, Shanahan’s mind is currently far away from his next showdown with Miami in 2026. Entering the game, the 49ers were in the top tier of Super Bowl hopefuls. Currently sitting at 8-4, the NFC West is still theirs for the taking; yet one question remains:

Where do we go from here?

Next. RB Jordan Mason gets his chance with Elijah Mitchell sidelined. dark