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Shanahan: Tua is playing at an extremely high level

The 49ers head coach compared the Dolphins quarterback to a signal-caller he used to coach.

Miami Dolphins v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Over the past five years, Kyle Shanahan has seen his offense mimicked and spread throughout the NFL. So when his longtime offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel accepted a job as a head coach with the Miami Dolphins and then acquired star wide receiver Tyreek Hill, you knew we’d see the best version of a Shanahan offense.

And, sure enough, that’s exactly what’s happening. The Dolphins enter Sunday’s matchup on a five-game winning streak, having scored at least 30 points in the previous four games. On Wednesday, Shanahan said the Dolphins' offense looks like what he expected. He also spoke about their quarterback, Tua Tagavalioa, who he believes in playing at “an extremely high level,” which started back in the preseason, according to Shanahan.

When asked what makes Tua so effective, Shanahan shared his answer while comparing the signal-caller to a former quarterback of his:

“The rhythm of his game, how quick he can get the ball off. 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.

They have so much speed that they blow the top off stuff, which gets some people open underneath. 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.”

Tua, like Jimmy Garoppolo, executes what he’s asked to do. Tagovalioa leads the NFL in adjusted net yards per attempt at 9.18. Jimmy is third at 7.57. Both quarterbacks are taking care of the ball more than ever. Their interception rates are 1.1 and 1.3 percent, respectively, without taking sacks, 4.1 and 5.3 percent.

Tua has a four percent edge in on-target percentage and a five percent edge in catchable passes, per Sports Info Solutions. SIS has Tagovalioa as the quarterback with the second most pass points earned, at 102, while Garoppolo is 20th at 39. Why? The numbers just mentioned lead to bigger plays and yards after the catch.

Shanahan’s comparison to Schaub is apt, as hitting receivers in stride makes all the difference.

Tua has 1,621 completed air yards compared to 943 yards after the catch. Jimmy’s numbers are almost inverse, as he has 919 air yards and 1,462 after the catch. Add in Tua’s average throwing depth is 2.3 yards higher at 8.8, and there is a difference between the two statistically.

People may remember Schaub's final and worst version, who was a walking pick-six. But Schaub was effective as a Texan and in his first Atlanta stint. So, I get where Shanahan is coming from.