Kyle Shanahan’s strange Tua Tagovailoa comparison

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan had high praise for Miami Dolphins signal caller Tua Tagovailoa. That makes the comparison he drew for the third-year quarterback all the more head-scratching.

Shanahan on Wednesday in a press conference discussed how Tagovailoa has found success in new Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel’s offense. In doing so he invoked the name of a QB Shanahan coached in Houston and Atlanta.

“The rhythm of his game, how quick he can get the ball off,” Shanahan said. “He reminds me a lot of guy I was with earlier in my career, Matt Schaub, when that back foot hits, he knows where to look and if someone’s not there, he is hitching right to replace him and letting it rip. If that second one’s not there, he is getting rid of it.”

Schaub isn’t typically a name people reach for when complimenting a QB with a comparison. That’s not to say it’s an insult. Schaub did carve out an impressive 17-year career where he went 47-46 in 93 starts, but for the most part his NFL tenure was unremarkable. Surely the bar is higher for the former No. 5 overall pick.

However, Schaub’s second season as a starter under Shanahan in 2009 makes the comparison for Tagovailoa make more sense. That year Schaub threw for an NFL best 4,770 yards, set a career-high with 29 touchdown passes, and averaged 8.2 yards per attempt. It was by virtually all measures a superb year for the veteran QB.

Shanahan went on to credit Tagovailoa, not the bevy of offensive weapons at his disposal, for Miami’s long list of explosive plays.

“They have so much speed that they blow the top off stuff, which gets some people open underneath,” Shanahan said. “Tua, to me, is the reason that they’re leading the league in explosives because he knows how to hit people over the middle. It’s rarely deep. It’s usually running and hitting these guys on the move and there’s some really open space with all that speed and then the quarterback who can drop it over linebackers, who is not worried about safeties and is doing that part of his game as high as anyone I’ve seen right now.”

Thanks to those explosive plays, Tagovailoa is set to blow Schaub’s 2009 season out of the water. He’s averaging over 9.0 yards per attempt and he’s on pace to throw for 4,273 yards in 15 games. He’s also completing 69.7 percent of his throws and leads the league with a 6.7 touchdown rate. With 19 touchdowns and three interceptions in just nine games, he’s also tracking to toss 32 TDs against only five picks.

Sunday the 49ers will host Tagovailoa and the high-octane Dolphins offense. Limiting those explosive plays will be perhaps the biggest key for San Francisco’s No. 1 defense. If they can force Tagovailoa to make an uncharacteristic mistake or two and look more like even than best version of Schaub than like Patrick Mahomes, they’ll be in a good spot to snag a win.

Related

Nick Bosa could be in for big game vs. Dolphins

Story originally appeared on Niners Wire