Mike McDaniel was known as the run-game guru in San Francisco, but Kyle Shanahan said his protege’s most impressive feat this season has involved a quarterback.
After McDaniel was hired by Miami, Shanahan questioned how well Tua Tagovailoa would fit in what is essentially a souped-up version of Shanahan’s offense.
“I wasn’t totally sure of that,” he acknowledged Wednesday. “And I remember turning (the television) on in the preseason and watching his first game and I was like, ‘Wow, this guy looks totally different and looks very comfortable.’ And you turn it on in Week 1 and I thought he was playing in Week 1 as good as anyone in this league.”
It was fair to doubt Tagovailoa entering 2022. After all, he hadn’t looked the part of a franchise savior in two previous seasons when he’d managed a ho-hum 88.8 passer rating. This season, he leads the league with a 115.7 passer rating and is one of the front-runners — along with Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes — in early Pro Bowl voting for the AFC.
Shanahan said he was confident McDaniel, who spent 14 seasons as Shanahan’s right-hand man, would be able to use speed to his advantage after the Dolphins added former 49ers tailback Raheem Mostert and Chiefs wideout Tyreek Hill in the offseason. He called Hill “different than everyone else, probably ever — the physicality and speed he runs with.”
The surprise has been the quickness with which Tagovailoa’s been able to deliver the ball to Hill, Jaylen Waddle and others. Shanahan likened Tagovailoa’s decision-making to a former pupil, Matt Schaub. Schaub led the NFL with 4,770 passing yards when Shanahan was the Texans’ offensive coordinator in 2009.