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Miami Dolphins: Five takeaways from blowout win over San Francisco 49ers

Hal Habib
Palm Beach Post
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick passes against the 49ers during the first half Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif. Fitzpatrick went 22 of 28 for 350 yards and three TDs to lead the upset over the 49ers.

The Dolphins traveled across the country as 8 1/2-point underdogs and seemingly headed for a 1-4 start and a brewing quarterback controversy.

Sorry, Tua fans.

Ryan Fitzpatrick enjoyed one of his best days Sunday, flirting with a perfect passer rating as the Dolphins blew out the San Francisco 49ers, 43-17.

Fitzpatrick went 22 of 28 for 350 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 154.5 as he continued to stave off rookie Tua Tagovailoa, whose contribution on this day was a heartfelt celebration with his mentor as the Dolphins piled up the points.

Fitzmagic strikes:Ryan Fitzpatrick nearly perfect vs. 49ers

Joe Schad:Brian Flores' Dolphins prepared for anything and did not flinch

Conjuring memories of Miami's near-perfect first-half performance against Jacksonville, Fitzpatrick led the Dolphins to touchdowns on their first two drives.

The 49ers (2-3) never showed signs of recovering.

Kicker Jason Sanders joined in the fun by going 5-for-5 in field goals for the second week in a row, making him perfect in 14 tries this season.

Key takeaways from the team’s best performance of the season:

This is what FitzMagic looks like:Fitzpatrick admits his career sometimes resembles a roller coaster. Sunday was about as high as it gets. With Tagovailoa looking over his shoulder, Fitzpatrick came out flinging.

Luckily for him, a giant bull’s-eye was waiting in a red uniform. Injuries to three cornerbacks pressed Brian Allen into action. Fitz showed zero mercy.

Fitz got Preston Williams involved early, hitting him for 47 yards to set up a touchdown.

He hit DeVante Parker for 28.

And he hit tight end Mike Gesicki for 70, although the victim was ex-Dolphin Jamar Taylor.

Terrific debut for the OL: The line played its first game without Austin Jackson at left tackle and didn’t miss a step.

Jackson has a foot injury and was placed on injured reserve.

Jesse Davis was moved to left tackle, with second-round pick Robert Hunt replacing Davis at right tackle and making his starting debut.

The left side of the line sealed off the 49ers so well that Myles Gaskin walked in from the 1 for Miami's second TD. Guard Ereck Flowers also moved bodies on the play.

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, left, fumbles the ball as he is hit by Dolphins outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel during the first half Sunday, one of Miami's five sacks on the day.

Secondary is finally intact, and it’s a beautiful thing: The Dolphins finally had both Byron Jones and Xavien Howard at cornerback following injuries and it showed.

You didn’t see receivers so wide open there were hardly any Dolphins in your picture.

What you did see was Bobby McCain collecting a gift that Jimmy Garoppolo launched his way, then Howard making another interception.

Howard, McCain, Nik Needham, Eric Rowe — they all broke up passes, helping chase Garoppolo, whose sprained ankle apparently is not 100 percent, at halftime.

And it didn’t hurt that Emmanuel Ogbah, Andrew Van Ginkel, Elandon Roberts and Zach Sieler brought such heat on the quarterback. And Jerome Baker, on that blitz? Ouch.

Calendar changes:Dolphins' schedule overhauled because of COVID-19

Why risk it? The Dolphins were up 30-14 deep into the third quarter when faced with a fourth-and-1 from their 34.

Punt, right?

Wrong. Brian Flores called a direct snap to up-back Clayton Fejedelem, who nearly was stopped for no gain but moved the chains.

Fitz then hit Matt Breida for 31 yards and Williams for 32 and a touchdown to make it 37-14.

Was it a gamble worth taking, given that the Dolphins came within a hair of giving San Fran momentum? No.

The fact it turned out so well doesn’t change that.

Speaking of no mercy: Who could have thought when the sun rose Sunday morning that the Dolphins would not be headed to Denver to face the Broncos next?

A shuffling of the schedule because of COVID-19 had early reports saying Miami’s bye was moved from Week 11 to next weekend. Turned out that report was sort-of correct. Instead of having the day off, the Dolphins will host the Jets next Sunday.

New York (including QB Joe Flacco) is 0-5 after getting hammered 30-10 by the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Will Adam Gase survive another week and be on the opposite sideline?

And how will 3-3 look for the Dolphins next week at this time?