Dolphins vs. 49ers: Final Report Card, Player Grades for San Francisco

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Dolphins vs. 49ers: Final Report Card, Player Grades for San Francisco


Maybe THAT'S why Jim Harbaugh decided to go with Colin Kaepernick as his starting quarterback over Alex Smith.

A read option call on 3rd-and-5 at midfield with 2:10 to go in a 20-13 game turned out to be brilliant as Kaepernick took advantage of Dolphins end Jared Odrick pinching in, turned the corner and had nobody in front of him on a 50-yard touchdown (his second straight game with a 50-yard run) to make it a 27-13 final. 

It's the kind of play that, when the defense guesses wrong, it goes bad for them in a major way. It's the one real arrow Kaepernick has in his quiver over Alex Smith, even more so than his arm strength. 

The great equalizer in Smith's favor, of course, has been his experience and ability to avoid turnovers, but when Kaepernick plays mistake-free too, Harbaugh's decision looks self-evident. 

The Dolphins had a chance to tie it, with 1st-and-10 at San Francisco's 35-yard-line, but the 49ers secondary covered well, and four incomplete passes and one missed gap assignment later, it was all she wrote. 

The 49ers improved to 9-3-1 and put more distance between themselves and the NFC North for the second overall seed in the conference and a first-round bye. With Atlanta losing to Carolina in the morning, San Francisco still has an outside chance for home-field advantage throughout, if it can win out.

However, with the Seahawks destroying Arizona on the afternoon, even the NFC West title isn't a mere formality for the Niners, and a loss at New England on Sunday Night Football next week would make the division race very interesting. 

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