- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: The Dolphins lost their fifth game in six weeks and fall to 5-8 on the season. Similar to the Buffalo Bills' loss Sunday, this game ends any realistic chance Miami had of getting a wild card. No one expected Miami to win this game on the road against one of the top teams in the NFC. But the Dolphins played hard and kept it competitive until the final minutes.
What I liked: Miami packed its defense on the road. The Dolphins matched the physical 49ers hit for hit and kept the 49ers to just six points in the first half. San Francisco didn't get a third-down conversion until late in the third quarter, but Miami's defense eventually wore down late. Miami defensive end Cameron Wake continued his Pro Bowl-level play with three more sacks. Miami tailback Reggie Bush also was more involved in the offense and accounted for 103 total yards.
What I didn’t like: Miami’s special teams were awful. First, linebacker Jonathan Freeney had a brain cramp when he grabbed the football but failed to down it inside the 5-yard line. Freeney inexplicably trotted inside the end zone for a touchback. Then, Dolphins return man Marcus Thigpen muffed a punt inside Miami's 10-yard line in the third quarter to set up a San Francisco touchdown. Plays such as this in the third phase are costly in a competitive game. Dolphins rookie Jonathan Martin struggled in his first start at left tackle. Aldon Smith beat him for two sacks. Martin is auditioning to potentially replace Jake Long next season. Long is on injured reserve with a triceps injury and will be an unrestricted free agent.