49ers, Dolphins both fit same team mold

Getty Images File PhotoSimilar needs: Niners coach Jim Harbaugh

Getty Images File PhotoSimilar needs: Niners coach Jim Harbaugh

Two years ago, both the Miami Dolphins and 49ers wooed Jim Harbaugh to be their next coach.

The Niners won that courting competition and landed their high-profile man, luring him away from nearby Stanford and giving him a $25 million, five-year contract. And Harbaugh delivered immediately by taking his new team to the NFC Championship Game and oh-so-close to a Super Bowl as a rookie NFL coach.

Now, he has his 49ers (8-3-1) poised for another postseason run next month, with Miami (5-7) next up on the schedule today at Candlestick Park.

As rarely as these teams see each other being on opposite coasts and playing in different conferences, they certainly have pursued some of the same faces — most notably, of course, being Harbaugh.

Then, last spring, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith flew to South Florida for a visit with the Dolphins during a time when San Francisco’s brass explored the possibility of signing Peyton Manning.

Manning wound up in Denver, Smith stayed put on a new three-year deal, while Miami drafted Ryan Tannehill. Smith has since lost his starting job to Colin Kaepernick after suffering a concussion against the Rams on Nov. 11.

Miami’s immediate future — and long-term success, too — is riding on Tannehill’s ability to get a stagnant offense going down the stretch for a Dolphins team determined to finish strong and avoid a fourth consecutive losing season after overhauling the operation heading into 2012.

“You can’t win games consistently only scoring 19 points,” Tannehill said. “That’s a big focus of ours, to find a way to get more points on the board whatever way it is. We have to find a way.”

He will face pressure all day from NFL sacks leader Aldon Smith as well as Justin Smith.

Both teams boast stingy, opportunistic defenses and mobile young quarterbacks still learning the ups and downs of the NFL through trial by fire.

Though the 49ers have hurt themselves of late with a plethora of penalties — hardly the way the NFC West leaders want to be playing in December.

With the season’s stretch run ahead and Seattle close behind, San Francisco plans to do all in its power to play mistake-free football against the Dolphins.

“We have had some big ones that have really stopped some drives,” Harbaugh said. “Some of them were really, really questionable, in our opinion. … There have been some big ones that have stopped drives or extended drives for the other team. That’s not the way we want to play. That’s not the 49er way of playing football.”

The 49ers, clinging to the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoff picture behind 11-1 Atlanta, realize they can’t afford any slip ups the rest of the way.

“We’re not pressing. We’re not panicking here,” Staley said. “These are huge games coming up, especially with the situation of us losing last week and Seattle winning. The division’s very tight. These four games are huge games, all four of them.”

49ersJim HarbaughNFLSan Francisco 49erssports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

After the pandemic hit, Twin Peaks Boulevard was closed to vehicle traffic, a situation lauded by open space advocates. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
New proposal to partially reopen Twin Peaks to vehicles pleases no one

Neighbors say closure brought crime into residential streets, while advocates seek more open space

Members of the Sheriff’s Department command staff wore masks at a swearing-in ceremony for Assistant Sheriff Tanzanika Carter. One attendee later tested positive. 
Courtesy SFSD
Sheriff sees increase in COVID-19 cases as 3 captains test positive

Command staff among 10 infected members in past week

Rainy weather is expected in the coming week. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Rainstorms, potential atmospheric river expected to drench Bay Area in coming week

By Eli Walsh Bay City News Foundation Multiple rainstorms, cold temperatures some… Continue reading

U.S. Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s powerful reading was among the highlights of Inauguration Day. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Inauguration shines light in this never-ending shade

Here’s to renewal and resolve in 2021 and beyond

Lowell High School is considered an academically elite public school. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Students denounce ‘rampant, unchecked racism’ at Lowell after slurs flood anti-racism lesson

A lesson on anti-racism at Lowell High School on Wednesday was bombarded… Continue reading

Most Read