What Tua Tagovailoa saw in Jimmy Garoppolo while prepping for 49ers-Dolphins

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What Tua noticed in Jimmy G when watching 49ers game film originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel certainly is familiar with 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but what has Tua Tagovailoa noticed about his fellow signal-caller?

The Miami quarterback has been watching plenty of tape to prepare for Sunday’s 49ers-Dolphins clash at Levi’s Stadium, he told reporters Wednesday, including clips of San Francisco’s offense with Garoppolo, second-year pro Trey Lance and even former 49er C.J. Beathard throwing passes.

“You got to see the timing of the footwork with how they did things on certain pass protections, play-pass protections, necessarily where the spot was in certain protections,” Tagovailoa said. “And then the timing, how that married up with the routes.

“So [I] learned a lot from [Garoppolo’s] tape and the tape that they produced over however many years.”

While the 49ers’ well-oiled offensive machine features plenty of weapons like George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey, there’s the other side of the ball that the Dolphins have to worry about, too.

And starring opposite Tagovailoa on Sunday will be San Francisco’s top-ranked defense, which hasn’t allowed a single point in six quarters of football.

“We’re preparing for these guys like every other defense,” Tagovailoa said Wednesday. “We understand that this is probably going to be our toughest competition because it’s our next, but for us, I don’t think we look at it as something that we shy away from.

“We embrace adversity, we embrace competition, and it’s a great opportunity for us to showcase what we can do against the best. And what more can you ask?”

The respect between both teams is mutual, with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan identifying what makes Tagovailoa unique to reporters on Wednesday.

“The rhythm of his game, how quick he can get the ball off,” Shanahan said. “He reminds me a lot of a guy I was with earlier in my career, [former NFL QB] 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.

“... Tua, to me, is the reason that they’re leading the league in [explosive plays] because he knows how to hit people over the middle. It’s rarely deep.”

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Shanahan said Tagovailoa is hitting players in stride “as high as anyone” the coach has seen in the NFL right now.

Timing and rhythm no doubt will be key to both quarterbacks’ potential success on Sunday, and it will be up to the 49ers’ defense to knock Tagovailoa and the Dolphins off course.

But it’s clear that both sides are prepared for the challenge.

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