SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Ryan Fitzpatrick did his best to quiet the talk about when rookie Tua Tagovailoa should take over as starter in Miami.
Fitzpatrick threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns and the Dolphins sent the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers to their third straight home loss to open the season, 43-17 on Sunday.
“I’ve been called every name in the book,” Fitzpatrick said. “People hate me, people love me, depending on the week. That outside noise isn’t important. The thing is important is practicing and getting everybody ready.”
Fitzpatrick connected on a 3-yard TD pass to Adam Shaheen on the opening drive of the game for the Dolphins (2-3) and didn’t let up.
The 49ers (2-3) are the team with questions at quarterback after Jimmy Garoppolo got pulled at halftime after throwing two interceptions. Garoppolo had missed the previous two games with a sprained ankle and never looked comfortable against a defense that entered allowing the most yards per dropback in the NFL.
C.J. Beathard replaced Garoppolo at the half and threw one TD pass but it wasn’t enough to keep the Niners from falling again at home. San Francisco is 2-0 this season at MetLife Stadium with blowout wins over the Jets and Giants but has lost all three games at home.
“Our vets have to play better,” All-Pro tight end George Kittle said. “It starts with me. Just our whole unit is not playing very well together. We have the guys to right the ship. No one is jumping off, no one is pointing fingers.”
The Dolphins dominated on both sides of the ball with five sacks, three takeaways and a nearly perfect performance from Fitzpatrick.
Coach Brian Flores called it the best win since he took over in Miami last season.
“That is the type of preparation we need,” he said. “We’ve got to do it every week. We’ve got to string some together.”
Fitzpatrick converted on deep strikes for TDs to DeVante Parker and Preston Williams and led the Dolphins to their highest scoring road game since 1986.
“We always had the talent,” Williams said. “We just had to execute. That’s all it was. Now we’re trying to figure it out.”
Garoppolo finished 7 for 17 for 77 yards, two interceptions and a 15.7 rating. That’s the fourth worst rating for a 49ers starter since Bill Walsh arrived in 1979, beating out only Cody Pickett (7.5 vs. Chicago in 2005), Alex Smith (8.5 vs Colts in 2005) and Steve Young (14.3 vs Jaguars in 1999).
“I know he doesn’t normally throw the ball that way and I think he was struggling because of it,” coach Kyle Shanahan said of Garoppolo's ankle. “The way the game was going, I wasn’t going to keep putting him in those positions.”
Flores didn’t get conservative even with a big second-half lead. With Miami facing a fourth-and-1 in its own territory in a 30-14 game, Flores called for a fake that Clayton Fejedelem converted with a 1-yard run on a direct snap. Fitzpatrick capitalized on that with a 32-yard TD pass to Williams.
JUST FOR KICKS
Jason Sanders kicked three field goals in the final two minutes of the first half, something that hasn’t been done since at least 2000. He made a 26-yarder with 2:00 remaining to give Miami a 24-7 lead. Garoppolo then threw interceptions to Bobby McCain and Xavien Howard on the next two drives to set up kicks from 50 and 29 yards.
Sanders made five field goals overall, giving him a franchise record 14 straight to open the season.
With the Niners down starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman, Emmanuel Moseley and K’Waun Williams, the Dolphins took advantage of fill-in Brian Allen. He was promoted from the practice squad Saturday and struggled from the start, allowing a 47-yard pass to Williams on the opening play. Fitzpatrick repeatedly threw his direction and drew a pass interference call and beat him on a 22-yard TD pass to Parker that made it 21-7 in the second quarter.
Allen was then pulled on the next possession for Ahkello Witherspoon, who was active despite a hamstring injury. The Niners had been hoping only to use Witherspoon in an emergency but he told the coaches he was OK to go so he went in.
49ers: DT D.J. Jones left in the first half with an eye injury.
Dolphins: Host Jets on Sunday in a game that was rescheduled from Week 10 as the NFL juggles the schedule because of the coronavirus.
49ers: Host Rams on Sunday night.
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