The Dolphins offensive line you saw finish the Rams game very well might be the same one that starts the 49ers game Sunday.
Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen wasn’t overly optimistic about Laremy Tunsil or Branden Albert returning to the field Sunday, and Mike Pouncey didn’t look great when he limped out of the Dolphins locker room in Los Angeles.
“I’m hoping they all make a miraculous recovery,” Christensen told reporters Wednesday.
Tunsil, who started at left tackle for Albert, left the Rams game with a shoulder injury and did not return. NFL Network reported that injury “is not believed to be a major one;” Christensen wouldn’t go that far, but did say that Tunsil probably has a “50-50 chance” to play against San Francisco.
Tunsil practiced on a limited basis Wednesday. While Tunsil did not speak to reporters Wednesday, teammate Kraig Urbik said that the rookie left tackle did participate in 11-on-11 drills -- certainly an encouraging sign for his availability.
“We're still trying to figure it out,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said. “It's going to take the whole week. We're going to be repping everybody and try to take the whole time and figure out what it's going to be.”
As for Albert, out last week with a wrist injury? He’s been “rehabbing like crazy,” but it’s “wait and see,” Christensen said. He worked with trainers during the portion of practice open to reporters.
He has made visible progress since dislocating his wrist against the Chargers. Albert had surgery on Nov. 15 and spent the rest of the week in a cast.
But on Wednesday, the cast was gone. Albert had the wrist wrapped in a bandage and supported by a brace.
“I was telling them, this cast is hurting me even more,” said Albert, the 2015 Pro Bowler. “Everybody was telling me how swollen my hand was, because the cast put so much pressure on me. I was complaining about it. But I'm fine now.”
Like he did after Sunday’s game, Albert didn’t rule out playing against the 49ers. He suggested that he could suit up without practicing a snap this week, but would not speculate whether he’d need to cast the hand again in a game.
“I'll be able to function. Once I know I can grab somebody, I'm playing football,” Albert added.
Pouncey, meanwhile, seems to be the longest shot to play this week. He wasn’t even out rehabbing during Wednesday’s non-contact workout, and Gase said “it's probably not going to look good for him.”
In practice last week, Pouncey re-injured the troublesome left hip that needed surgery back in training camp and kept him out of the first four weeks of the season.
If Albert, Tunsil and Pouncey cannot play, the Dolphins would start Urbik at left guard, Sam Young at left tackle and Anthony Steen at center.
The group had mixed results Sunday playing together for the entire second half in Los Angeles. The Dolphins were inept on offense for their first 11 possessions, only to come to life late with touchdowns on their last two possessions.
“We didn't do [well] enough early in the game to get ourselves into third-and-short situations,” Urbik said. “We had penalties, things like that, missed assignments.”
So what changed?
“Mixed a couple runs in there,” Urbik added. “Got the ball out quick. It kind of neutralized the pass rush.”
Aside from Pouncey, there is real uncertainty about who will play and who will not -- meaning Gase has had to develop a game-plan without knowing who will be running the plays he calls.
Chemistry among the five linemen who do start “has got to happen quick,” Gase added.
If there is a silver lining, it’s this: The 49ers are terrible on defense. They rank last in yards allowed (431.1 per game), last in points (31.3), last in yards per carry allowed (5.2) and 30th in sacks (17).
But to hear Christensen tell it Wednesday, San Francisco was going to suit up Ronnie Lott, Charles Haley and Merton Hanks on Sunday.
“It’s difficult,” he said of the situation. “I think it’s what everybody’s got. We’ve invested some time in these guys, where you have confidence in them. What those guys did coming off the bench in Los Angeles was impressive.”