Dolphins coach Flores saw Garoppolo's potential early
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - Miami manager Brian Flores knew early on that Jimmy Garoppolo had what it takes to be an NFL starting quarterback.
As a defense assistant in New England when Garoppolo was drafted in 2014, Flores got a first-hand look at what Garoppolo can do.
"He was very talented," said Flores. "He threw throws and made you turn around and say," Wow, that was good. "I think he played a bit early (2016). I remember we went to Arizona and he played well in that game and played well for the next week. I think we just got the games and watched pre-season training and we all knew he was going to be a good player and it definitely turned out that way. "
Flores will likely see this on Sunday when the Dolphins (1-3) visit Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers (2-2).
Garoppolo is expected this week after missing the last two games with a sprained ankle. His return should spark a spark for a San Francisco-based team who suffered a 25:20 home loss to Philadelphia last week, in large part due to three costly sales from backup Nick Mullens.
Since coach Kyle Shanahan took over in San Francisco, the Niners are 20-6 when Garoppolo starts, compared to a 5-21 mark with any other quarterback.
Garoppolo threw 3,978 yards and 27 TD passes last season to lead the 49ers to 13 wins, and was 33 for 49 for 390 yards, four TDs, and no interceptions in six quarters of that season.
No matter who plays at quarterback, the key to the 49ers is going to get the current game going again after struggling a little over the past few weeks.
"I think if we do our best we will be the best-run game team in football," said George Kittle. "We didn't meet my standards or the standards of our team."
The Niners had a big boost on offense last week with the return of Kittle, who had missed the last two games with a sprained knee. Kittle was targeted 15 times and caught all 15 for 183 yards and a touchdown. Kittle was the fourth receiver, or tight end, since 2009 to be attacked at least 12 times and intercepted every pass.
"I don't think you're stopping him. I think you're just trying to limit him," said Flores. "I think you're trying to make him look different - play zone, play a man. I think if you're a player like this you have to think about doubling up on a guy like this. but again, he's as physical as you can get. "
NO SWITCH YET
Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is set to restart despite a crescendo in call for Tua Tagovailoa, who will make his NFL debut. Flores said he was not pressured by the media to join Tagovailoa. Fitzpatrick said he wasn't looking over his shoulder.
"I just go out there and try to do the best I can in every game and that's where I focus," said Fitzpatrick. "When you start to think about this stuff and let it affect the way you play - whether you want to be riskier or more careful - I'm just not really who I am."
Fitzpatrick has thrown five interceptions that rank third in the NFL. His passerby rating is 28th and his career record as a starter is 56-86-1.
The Niners fought on the offensive last week, allowing 16 pressures according to SportRadar. The normally reliable duels between Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey had problems and the inside of the line was again overwhelmed at times.
"I think overall we have to be sharper," said coach Kyle Shanahan. "Must be more on it."
Dolphins trainers have come and gone since Don Shula retired, and Flores has had its worst start since Cam Cameron in 2007.
After 20 games, Flores is 6-14. His most immediate predecessor, Adam Gase, started 12-8 in Miami, while Joe Philbin started 10-10 and Tony Sparano was 12-8.
Cameron went 1-15 and was fired after one season.
By the way, Shula started with 14-5-1.
The Niners' passing game under Shanahan is based on getting the ball to the playmakers who can then create great games after the catch. Kittle was one of the best in the game, with the most yards after catching among all tight ends and receivers since joining the league in 2017. Deebo Samuel finished second among all receivers in yards after catching pro last season Reception. Now rookie Brandon Aiyuk is showing the same skills, scoring TDs on 38 and 31 yard runs for the past two weeks.
"I think Brandon is doing a great job," said Samuel. "It's good to say he's now part of the YAC Bros. ... It's just great to have another man out there who can break the tackles and score."
AP sports journalist Steven Wine contributed to this report
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