Nov 13, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) celebrates the touchdown of running back quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1)  during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins’ Mike McDaniel returns to face 49ers with in-form offense

A hot offense will get the ultimate test when it meets one of the best defenses in the NFL as the visiting Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers continue their playoff pushes Sunday at Santa Clara, Calif.

The Dolphins (8-3) averaged 34.7 points per game in November, up from their season average of 25.6, as Tua Tagovailoa has emerged from early-season concussion issues with a clear head and precise play.

Miami is riding a five-game winning streak, with a revealing run of three consecutive road games ahead.

The 49ers (7-4) have emerged from their 3-4 start with a vengeance, riding a defense that has allowed an NFL-low 281.7 yards per game while also leading the league with 15.7 points allowed per contest. San Francisco is the only NFL team allowing fewer than 300 yards per game.

That 49ers’ defense not only has to go up against Miami wide receivers Tyreek Hill (87 receptions) and Jaylen Waddle (56 receptions), the game also will be a matchup of Miami head coach Mike McDaniel against his former team. McDaniel was the 49ers’ offensive coordinator last season.

“(McDaniel) is doing a great job with his personnel,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Those two receivers, the speed they have and the good football players they are … and the way that quarterback is playing — Tua is playing at an extremely high level and has been doing it since the preseason.”

While the defense is the 49ers’ engine, the offense still is looking for consistency.

Even with the midseason addition of running back Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco managed just 96 rushing yards and 3.3 yards per carry last Sunday in a victory over the New Orleans Saints, their fourth straight win. The defense made sure it was enough by pitching a 13-0 shutout.

McCaffrey (knee) did not practice Wednesday, while receiver Deebo Samuel (quad) was limited. Shanahan is hopeful McCaffrey will play Sunday, adding that both injuries are residual soreness from the New Orleans game.

The Dolphins enter after a 30-15 home victory over the Houston Texans in which Tagovailoa threw for 299 yards and a touchdown. Hill and Waddle combined for 11 catches and 170 yards. Miami’s defense held Houston to 210 yards, including 36 on the ground.

Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins has been a key component in holding Dolphins opponents to 109.5 yards rushing per game, 10th best in the NFL.

“This is just great football between two teams that haven’t lost in a minute,” McDaniel said. “Generally, when you haven’t lost in a minute, you don’t want to feel that feeling, so there’s a lot of incentive on both sides to make sure that they end up on top.”

After Sunday’s game, the Dolphins will remain in California in advance of a road game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Dec. 11. In a sign of how much attention Miami’s play is starting to earn, that Dolphins-Chargers game was flexed into primetime on “Sunday Night Football.”

“I think you acknowledge it and that’s something that the players should be proud of,” McDaniel said of the added national-TV game. “That means the players have decided that they want to make the most out of all the talent that they have and they’re committed to doing so and it’s a credit to them for sure.”

Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert is expected to be back this week after missing one game due to a knee injury. Mostert played the previous five-plus seasons with the 49ers.

Miami players not participating in practice Wednesday included tackle Terron Armstead (toe/pectoral), running back Myles Gaskin (shoulder/ankle) and offensive lineman Austin Jackson (ankle).

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell (25) runs the ball against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

49ers lose RB Elijah Mitchell (knee), sign CB Janoris Jenkins to practice squad

San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell will miss six to eight weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee, coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Monday.

Mitchell was injured during Sunday’s 13-0 victory over the New Orleans Saints. It is Mitchell’s second knee injury of the season.

“He’s pretty disappointed. Everyone knows how good Elijah’s been, how hard he’s worked to get back from his last one and how good he’s been playing since he came back,” Shanahan said during a conference call with reporters. “To be right back there, I know he was real down on it. He’s had some real bad luck. He got rolled up on and it was a bad position for him to be in.”

Mitchell sprained his right MCL in Week 1 and missed the following seven games before returning in Week 10 against the Los Angeles Chargers. He has 224 yards on 40 carries in four games and sports a healthy 5.6 average.

Mitchell had 963 yards and five touchdowns in 11 games (10 starts) as a rookie last season.

Also, running back Christian McCaffrey, who was acquired while Mitchell was injured, came out of the New Orleans game with knee irritation and will be watched closely this week.

The 49ers also announced that they have signed veteran cornerback Janoris Jenkins to the practice squad.

Jenkins, 34, has played in 142 NFL regular-season games (138 starts). He has intercepted 27 passes, returning eight of them for touchdowns, and been credited with 124 passes defensed. Now that he is on a roster, he is the NFL’s active leader in pick-sixes.

Jenkins also has returned a fumble for a touchdown while racking up 575 tackles, seven forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Last season, Jenkins had 54 tackles and one interception in 14 games (13 starts) for the Tennessee Titans. He was released in March.

Jenkins also had played for the then-St. Louis Rams (2012-15), New York Giants (2016-19) and New Orleans Saints (2019-20). He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2016 for the Giants.

–Field Level Media

November 27, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) passes the football against the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Niners hand Saints first shutout loss since 2001

Jimmy Garoppolo passed to Jauan Jennings for the game’s only touchdown and the host San Francisco 49ers handed the New Orleans Saints their first shutout in more than 20 years 13-0 on Sunday.

Robbie Gould added two field goals and Garoppolo completed 26 of 37 passes for 222 yards as the 49ers (7-4) won their fourth consecutive game.

Andy Dalton completed 18 of 29 for 204 yards, but Alvin Kamara had just 50 yards from scrimmage and lost two crucial fumbles for the Saints (4-8).

New Orleans reached a first-and-goal twice in the fourth quarter, trying to avoid the shutout and pull within one score, but the 49ers defense stood strong both times.

It was the first time New Orleans failed to score in 333 games, dating to Week 17 of the 2001 season against the 49ers.

On the first possession of the second half, the 49ers drove 47 yards to Gould’s 46-yard field goal that increased their lead to 13-0.

New Orleans drove to the San Francisco 35, looking for the first second-half points against the 49ers in four games. The Saints lined up to go for fourth and 5, but committed a false start and Wil Lutz missed a 48-yard field goal.

That enabled the 49ers to take the 13-0 lead into the fourth quarter.

New Orleans reached the San Francisco 6, but Kamara fumbled after a pass reception and Dre Greenlaw recovered for the 49ers at the 1.

The Saints reached the 4 on their next possession, but on fourth down, Dalton was sacked by Joey Bosa.

The first possession of the game ended when Kamara fumbled and Samson Ebukam recovered for the 49ers at the Saints 43. Eleven plays later, Gould kicked a 24-yard field goal and the 3-0 lead held up through the end of the first quarter.

The 49ers defense forced a three-and-out and the offense took over at their 43 after the punt. Nine players later, Garoppolo threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jennings with 13 seconds left, increasing the lead to 10-0 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2022; Mexico City, MEXICO; San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) celebrates his touchdown reception against the Arizona Cardinals with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) during the second quarter at Estadio Azteca. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Saints getting healthy but face tough battle with surging 49ers

Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t the San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback when the season began.

Andy Dalton wasn’t the New Orleans Saints starting quarterback when the season began.

But both quarterbacks have settled into starting positions as the 49ers and Saints prepare to meet Sunday afternoon in San Francisco.

Garoppolo was backing up Trey Lance until Lance suffered a season-ending fractured ankle in the second game of the season. Garoppolo has started the past eight games and helped lead San Francisco (6-4) to three consecutive victories and a tie with Seattle atop the NFC West.

He completed 20 of 29 passes for 228 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in a 38-10 victory over Arizona on Monday night in Mexico City.

“He is such a talented quarterback,” said running back Christian McCaffrey, who caught seven passes from Garoppolo for 67 yards and ran for 39 yards on seven carries against the Cardinals. “He is a great leader, super smart, can make any throw and just a great guy to be around. It’s been a lot of fun to be able to pick his brain and mesh with him.”

The 49ers’ surge has come since the acquisition of McCaffrey in a trade with Carolina to join an offense that already featured Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle.

San Francisco leads the NFL in total defense (283.9 yards per game) and is fourth in scoring defense (17.3 points per game). The 49ers are allowing the fewest rushing yards per game (81.1) and the fewest yards per rush (3.4).

“It’s very rare when you look at the tape that there’s one person in the screen,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It’s almost every play that there are 11 people on the screen. They’re playing well together.”

The Saints offense has been inconsistent this season. Starting quarterback Jameis Winston was injured during a season-opening win at Atlanta, then battled through losses to Tampa Bay and Carolina before Dalton took over.

New Orleans (4-7) won just two of Dalton’s first seven starts and head coach Dennis Allen considered returning to Winston after Dalton threw two interceptions in a 20-10 loss at Pittsburgh two weeks ago.

But Allen stayed with Dalton, who had one of the most efficient performances of his career last week. Dalton completed 21 of 25 passes for 260 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 27-20 home victory against the Los Angeles Rams.

“The way we played last week, we were able to get the ball out of my hand quickly and guys were getting open at the right time,” Dalton said. “We executed really well from that standpoint. It just comes down to playing in rhythm and playing on time.”

The Saints have yet to win consecutive games this season, but they sit in third place in the NFC South, just two games behind first-place Tampa Bay in the loss column.

New Orleans has seen an inordinate number of key players sidelined by injury this season, but the participation report Wednesday showed progress.

Five starters who had been sidelined returned on a limited basis — cornerback Marshon Lattimore (abdomen), defensive ends Cameron Jordan (eye) and Marcus Davenport (calf), tackle James Hurst (concussion) and guard Andrus Peat (triceps).

“When you get guys back out there, everybody gets a lift,” Allen said.

The 49ers had just four players on their injury report, including Samuels (hamstring), who was limited.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2022; Mexico City, MEX; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) celebrates after his touchdown pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at Estadio Azteca. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Garoppolo throws 4 TDs as 49ers fly by Cardinals

Jimmy Garoppolo tied a career high with four touchdown passes as the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 38-10 Monday night in Mexico City.

The 49ers (6-4) won their third consecutive game to move into a tie with idle Seattle for first place in the NFC West.

Garoppolo completed 20 of 29 passes for 228 yards and threw two TD passes apiece to Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle.

San Francisco’s other touchdown came on a 39-yard run by wide receiver Deebo Samuel.

The Cardinals (4-7) played without starting quarterback Kyler Murray for the second straight game because of a hamstring injury.

Veteran Colt McCoy, who guided Arizona to a victory against the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams last week, had no such luck at Estadio Azteca. McCoy was 24-of-34 passing for 218 yards with one interception.

The Cardinals held a 3-0 lead after one quarter on a 40-yard field goal by Matt Prater before the 49ers got acclimated to the elevation change and the slippery turf from a downpour that began just before the opening kickoff.

San Francisco outscored the Cardinals 31-7 over the next two quarters to pull away.

Garoppolo threw TD passes of 7 yards to Aiyuk and 39 yards to Kittle before Arizona scored its lone touchdown on a 2-yard run by James Conner.

The 49ers’ Robbie Gould converted a 39-yard field goal with 43 seconds left in the half to make it 17-10.

Samuel scored on an end-around on San Francisco’s opening drive of the second half, then Garoppolo threw two more scoring strikes, hitting Aiyuk from 13 yards and Kittle from 32, the latter early in the fourth quarter.

Elijah Mitchell led the 49ers with 59 yards rushing on nine attempts. Christian McCaffrey added 39 yards on seven carries and made seven receptions for 67 yards, matching Samuel for the team lead in receptions.

Conner carried 14 times for 42 yards for the Cardinals. DeAndre Hopkins and Greg Dortch each had nine catches, racking up 91 and 103 yards, respectively.

It was a rematch of a 2005 contest at the same stadium that was the NFL’s first regular-season game played outside the United States.

–Field Level Media

November 13, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23) is tackled by Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Khalil Mack (52) during the second quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers-Cardinals in Mexico: Preview, Prop Picks, Prediction

The San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals will meet in Mexico City on Monday night, 17 years after the NFC West rivals clashed in the first regular-season NFL game played outside of the United States.

Nearly 90,000 fans are expected at Estadio Azteca, with the 49ers a consensus 10-point favorite.

San Francisco (5-4) is seeking a third consecutive win that would vault the team into a first-place tie in the division with Seattle. Arizona (4-6) is trying to build on a victory over the Los Angeles Rams last week with the Cardinals scraping to stay in the playoff picture.

Colt McCoy is expected to start at quarterback for Arizona again in place of Kyler Murray, who missed the Rams game due to a hamstring injury.

PROP PICKS

49ers RB Christian McCaffrey Anytime TD Scorer (-140 at BetMGM): This is the second most popular prop at the sportsbook, right behind McCaffrey at +450 to score the first touchdown of the game. He has a pair of rushing touchdowns to go with a receiving score and another passing in the past two games since getting fully integrated into the offense.

Cardinals RB James Conner Over 50.5 Rushing Yards (-120 at DraftKings): The 49ers have the No. 2 run defense in the league, allowing an average of just 82.7 yards per game on the ground. It won’t be an easy task but as long as the Cardinals can keep the game within reach, they will need to stay balanced offensively with McCoy at the helm. Following the surprising release of Eno Benjamin, Conner is the unquestioned bell cow in Arizona’s backfield.

49ers TE George Kittle Over 3.5 Receptions (-140 at BetMGM): This is the third most popular prop at the sportsbook. After a slow start to the season following a groin injury, Kittle appears to be back to 100 percent. He had just one catch on two targets in the win over the Chargers before the bye but averaged 5.5 receptions on 7.5 targets over the previous four games. There is some concern over how the 49ers will spread the ball to all of their healthy offensive weapons, but the Cardinals are allowing 247.1 yards per game through the air.

INJURY REPORT

49ers: DT Arik Armstead (foot, ankle) is out, while DE Samson Ebukam (quadricep, Achilles) is questionable.

Cardinals: Murray (groin) is expected to miss his second consecutive game, although McCoy (knee) wasn’t listed on the final injury report. WR DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) is listed as questionable but is expected to play. G Max Garcia (shoulder) is also questionable, while offensive tackle D.J. Humphries (back), TE Zach Ertz (knee) and CB Byron Murphy (back) are out.

PREDICTION

The injury focus for Arizona has been on the quarterback position but the left side of the offensive line is beat up and McCoy won’t have Ertz at his disposal. Ten points is a big spread but this game could also get out of hand come the second half and San Francisco’s defense is the top-ranked unit in the league. –49ers 30, Cardinals 16

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23) on the field before a game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals, 49ers detour to Mexico in pursuit of Seahawks

Seventeen years ago, the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals traveled to Mexico City for the NFL’s first regular-season game played outside the United States.

The NFC West rivals are south of the border again Monday night with nearly 90,000 fans expected at Estadio Azteca.

Telemundo broadcast analyst Rolando Cantu, who was an offensive lineman on the Cardinals’ practice squad in 2005, compared it to a playoff atmosphere.

“That day, the fans were different. They were hungry to be a part of something unique,” Cantu said. “And the unique part about it was, this was a regular-season game. This game was going to count. It wasn’t an American Bowl. It wasn’t an exhibition game. This game was going to be remembered in the history books. If you got a ticket to go to Estadio Azteca, you were a part of history.”

The 49ers (5-4) have won two in a row and move into a first-place tie with idle Seattle atop the division with a victory.

The Cardinals (4-6) defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams 27-17 last weekend, a step closer to nudging their way back into the playoff picture.

The Cardinals are unsure who will start at quarterback. Kyler Murray missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury and backup Colt McCoy, who went 26 of 37 for 238 yards and a touchdown, tweaked his knee late in the victory. Both quarterbacks were limited participants in practice this week.

“I’m hoping at least one of them, yeah,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said when asked if either Murray or McCoy would be available Monday. “I think we should be able to get to that point hopefully by later in the week.”

Murray said he originally felt a tweak in Week 8 against Minnesota but played through it against Seattle the following week.

“I feel good,” Murray said. “I don’t know percentage or anything like that, but I feel a lot better. The way I play, I’ve got to be able to do what I do. I’ve played through those things, but there’s a fine line between making it worse and not making it worse. We’re on the right track.”

The Cardinals will be without tight end Zach Ertz, who suffered a knee injury against the Rams and is facing season-ending surgery. In addition, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring), offensive lineman D.J. Humphries (back), cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. (back) and safety Budda Baker (ankle) have also missed practice.

The 49ers defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 22-16 last week in primetime, getting short touchdown runs by Christian McCaffrey and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and three field goals from Robbie Gould to score the Sunday night win.

The 49ers’ offense is ranked ninth in the league but they’re just 18th in scoring with 22 points per game.

They scored two touchdowns on five trips inside the red zone against the Chargers. Their TD conversion rate of 57.8% inside the opponents’ 20-yard line is well below their league-leading rate of 66.7% from last season

“I do think there are a lot of things clicking,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “But you’re not going to get points if you move it and can’t score inside the 10. You’re not going to get enough points, that’s for sure.”

The 49ers practiced this week at Air Force Academy outside Colorado Springs, Colo., to get acclimated to the high altitude in Mexico City.

While relatively healthy offensively, the 49ers have practiced without defensive linemen Arik Armstead (foot/ankle), Samson Ebukam (quadricep/Achilles) and Javon Kinlaw (knee).

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte 49ers head coach Will Healy and friends take the field during the first quarter against the Maryland Terrapins at Jerry Richardson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Biff Poggi to be named Charlotte coach

Michigan associate head coach Francis “Biff” Poggi is expected to be named the new head coach at Charlotte, according to multiple reports Tuesday.

It would be Poggi’s first head coaching stint in the collegiate ranks. He joined Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan in July 2021 after a stint as the head coach at Saint Frances Academy in Baltimore.

Poggi would replace Will Healy, fired by Charlotte last month amid a 1-7 start to the season. Healy was 15-24 in three-plus seasons in Charlotte.

Offensive line coach Pete Rossomando has been serving as interim head coach.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) and defensive end Jordan Willis (75) sack Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Chase Daniel (4) during the second quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

49ers rally late, pull out victory over Chargers

Christian McCaffrey scored on a 2-yard run with 7:54 remaining to give the San Francisco 49ers their first lead on the way to a 22-16 victory Sunday night over the visiting Los Angeles Chargers.

McCaffrey, who played in his third game with the 49ers after he was acquired in a trade from the Carolina Panthers, rushed for 38 yards and scored his fourth TD for San Francisco, including a passing score in Week 8. Elijah Mitchell had 89 yards rushing for the 49ers.

Jimmy Garoppolo had 240 yards passing and a rushing TD for the 49ers (5-4). After missing a game because of a hamstring issue, 49ers wideout Deebo Samuel had two receptions and 27 yards rushing.

Justin Herbert passed for 196 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Chargers (5-4), who scored a touchdown on their opening drive and then never found the end zone again. Austin Ekeler had seven receptions and 24 rushing yards for the Chargers.

The Chargers continued to play without proven wideouts Keenan Allen (hamstring) and Mike Williams (ankle).

After McCaffrey’s late touchdown gave the 49ers a 19-16 lead, Robbie Gould made a 20-yard field goal with one minute remaining for the final margin. The Chargers had one last drive but Herbert was intercepted by Talanoa Hufanga.

Despite the 49ers’ offensive firepower, it was the Chargers that got off to the fast start, taking a 7-0 lead when Herbert capped the opening seven-play, 75-yard drive with a 32-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Carter.

The 49ers received a 20-yard field goal from Gould on their first drive, before the Chargers matched that on the second play of the second quarter with a 47-yard field goal from Cameron Dicker.

The 49ers found the end zone for the first time on Garoppolo’s 1-yard TD run with 1:57 remaining in the first half to pull within 13-10. The Chargers took a 16-10 lead into halftime after Dicker’s 40-yard field goal.

Los Angeles played without defensive tackle Otito Ogbonnia, who had a left leg injury on the 49ers’ opening drive. Chargers defensive tackle Christian Covington left in the third quarter and did not return.

San Francisco linebacker Dre Greenlaw was ejected with 30 seconds remaining in the first half after a helmet-to-helmet hit on Herbert.

–Field Level Media

Sep 12, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive back Jason Verrett (2) walks off the field with an injury during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

49ers CB Jason Verrett tears Achilles, done for season

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Jason Verrett was on the verge of making his debut in the aftermath of sustaining a torn ACL.

But the team announced Thursday that Verrett tore his Achilles in practice and his season is over before it could begin. Verrett also missed the entire 2018 season due to a torn Achilles tendon.

The 49ers said Verrett suffered the injury Wednesday. He was activated off the physically unable to perform list after Week 7.

Verrett, 31, sustained a torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2021 season. It marked the third season of his eight-year career in which he played exactly one game due to injuries.

In seven seasons with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers (2014-17) and Niners (2019-21), Verrett has recorded 145 tackles, seven interceptions and 26 pass breakups across 40 career games (36 starts). He was a Pro Bowler in 2015.

–Field Level Media