Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores does not know if his team will be facing Jimmy Garoppolo on Sunday.
But if Garoppolo is back in the 49ers’ starting lineup, Flores will not have the same feelings as in the past from watching him on the field.
“My time with him was very good,” Flores said Wednesday on a video call with Bay Area reporters. “You could see the talent very early. You could see the leadership early. He’s just a great kid. I’m really happy for him and the success he’s had.”
Garoppolo has missed the past two 49ers games due to a high ankle sprain. He was slated to return to limited practice on Wednesday to begin preparations to face the Dolphins. The teams meet in a Week 5 matchup at Levi's Stadium.
Flores, 39, is in his second season as Dolphins head coach.
He rose to prominence in the NFL after joining Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots staff in 2008 as a special teams assistant. Flores eventually was promoted to Patriots safeties coach from 2012 to ’15 and to linebackers coach from 2016 to ’18.
New England selected Garoppolo in the second round (No. 62 overall) of the 2014 draft.
For most of the next 3 1/2 seasons, Garoppolo served as the scout-team quarterback. His main responsibility was to run the offense of the Patriots’ upcoming opponent to get the team’s defense properly prepared.
“He would make throws and make you turn back and go, ‘Wow, that was a good one,’” Flores recalled. “Just watching him in preseason games and practice, we all knew he was going to be a good player. And it has definitely turned out that way.”
Regardless of which quarterback the 49ers go with on Sunday, Flores said not a lot changes for his team's preparation. He said the Dolphins will be ready to face whoever steps on the field to run Shanahan’s offense.
“You watch them all,” Flores said. “You always prepare for the system. Kyle is a very innovative play-caller, so there’s a lot to prepare for from that standpoint -- run game, pass game, gadgets.”
Flores called tight end George Kittle one of the -- if not the – best tight ends in the league. He also noted the explosive play of wide receivers Deebo Samuel and rookie Brandon Aiyuk, as well as the 49ers’ deep group of running backs.