NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2-4) VS. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (3-3)
Sunday, October 25, 2020 at 4:25 p.m. ET. Gillette Stadium.

The New England Patriots will attempt to get back to a .500 record this week when they host the defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers. The Patriots will face an NFC opponent for the second time this season, following 35-20 loss at Seattle in Week 2. Since the NFL realignment in 2002, the Patriots have the best inter-conference record with a 58-15 (.795) mark. The 2019 Patriots were 4-0 against the NFC East. In addition to the 49ers, the Patriots will host Arizona on Nov. 29 and travel to California to take on the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday, Dec. 10.

SERIES HISTORY

The New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers will play for the first time since 2016 when the Patriots came out ahead, 30-17, in their first visit to Levi’s Stadium. The Patriots will host the 49ers for the first time since the teams played in a Sunday Night Football game on Dec, 16, 2012. San Francisco won, 41-34.

San Francisco holds a 8-5 lead in the series, but the Patriots have won four of the last five meetings.

The matchup will be a battle between two teams that were labeled as the teams of the past four decades, with the 49ers earning the title from 1981-99 and the Patriots dominating the last two decades (2001-present). The 49ers are third all-time with 122 wins in a decade (1990-99), while New England had 126 wins from 2000-09 and 141 victories from 2010-19.

SERIES BREAKDOWN

SAN FRANCISCO 8, NEW ENGLAND 5

Home Record, 3-4

  • Schaefer / Sulllivan / Foxboro Stadium, 2-3
  • Gillette Stadium, 1-1

Away Record, 2-4

  • Candlestick/3Com Park, 1-3
  • Stanford Stadium, 0-1
  • Levi’s Stadium, 1-0

Total Points: 49ers 322, Patriots 262

Longest winning streak: 3 games

Longest losing streak: 6 games (11/30/80 – 09/17/95)

Bill Belichick vs. San Francisco 4-1: (3-1 with New England)

SUSTAINED SUCCESS AGAINST THE NFC

The New England Patriots own a 58-15 (.795) record vs. NFC teams since realignment in 2002, the best inter-conference record in the NFL during that time. The 2019 Patriots finished 4-0 against the NFC East.

SCOUTING THE MATCHUPS

By Paul Perillo

When the Patriots run – Edge: Patriots

The 49ers defense has been absolutely gutted by injuries and nowhere has that been more evident than the front line. Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas are both out of the year while Dee Ford is on IR dealing with a neck injury. While Bosa and Ford are known more for their pass rush abilities, losing three of four defensive linemen has to cause problems stopping the run. The Rams Darrell Henderson enjoyed a solid night against that depleted front, and the Patriots are looking to bounce back from a subpar ground effort against the Broncos. The patchwork offensive line certainly had a role in the lack of production against Denver, but David Andrews is eligible to return off IR, which could put Joe Thuney back at left guard and Isaiah Wynn at left tackle. Shaq Mason remains on the COVID-reserve list so his availability remains in question. Same can be said of Jermaine Eluemunor, who missed most of the Broncos loss with an ankle injury. Assuming some of the pieces return, things should improve with Damien Harris and Rex Burkhead taking the bulk of the carries. Look for Cam Newton to perhaps call his own number more often given the struggles, and against this MASH unit things should improve.

When the Patriots pass – Edge: 49ers

The Niners secondary also is dealing with health issues, but two things impacting the matchup go in the visitors’ favor. First, San Francisco is getting some healthy bodies back. Emmanuel Moseley provided a huge boost when he returned last week against the Rams after missing two games with a concussion. Oft-injured veteran Jason Verrett is also healthy and was sharp against Los Angeles, giving the Niners much better options at corner. The safeties are Jarquarski Tartt and Jimmie Ward, a solid tandem known for its physicality. Meanwhile the Patriots passing game is a mess. Julian Edelman looks like a shell of his former self, often going long stretches without any action. N’Keal Harry was shut out against the Broncos, leaving Newton with very few options beyond the running backs. Damiere Byrd led the wideouts with just three catches, but no one appeared capable of consistently getting open and making plays against a very average Broncos secondary. If the Niners are reasonably healthy in the secondary they should be able to corral this limited group of pass catchers, particularly if Newton continues to show the inconsistency he’s displayed over the last two games he’s played. At this point the Patriots offense needs to prove it can move the ball through the air before much faith can be displayed.

When the 49ers run – Edge: 49ers

Few teams run the ball with as much diversity as the 49ers. Raheem Mostert leads the way, although he’s dealing with a high ankle sprain that knocked him out of most of the second half against the Rams and will likely keep him off the field this week as well. Even without him the Niners were able to milk the clock effectively in the fourth quarter with the tandem of Jerick McKinnon and rookie JaMychal Hasty as well as a number of jet sweeps/touch passes involving Deebo Samuel. Kyle Shanahan loves to rely on the run in order to open up passing lanes and he will stick with the ground game in Foxborough, especially going against a Patriots front that struggles in that department. Phillip Lindsay topped the 100-yard mark for Denver in his first game in a month coming off a toe injury. The Patriots front seven is dealing with some absences as well with Byron Cowart on the COVID-reserve list, leaving Lawrence Guy and some practice squad call-ups as the lone big bodies inside. That’s not a good sign entering a week in which the run defense will be paramount to the team’s success. Bill Belichick made some subtle changes in the lineup last week, moving edge players like Shilique Calhoun and Chase Winovich inside at times but the results weren’t strong. Ja’Whaun Bentley enjoyed a solid game in the middle, but he’ll need more help against the San Francisco’s physical offensive line and ground game.

When the 49ers pass – Edge: Patriots

Jimmy Garoppolo is dealing with a significant injury of his own, a high ankle sprain that cost him two games and left him well under 100 percent in two others. He was efficient in the win over the Rams, but the stats are much better than his actual performance. Much of the damage was done on screens and touch passes to Samuel, most of which amounted to little more than extended running plays. He did his job well, but he still looks affected by the ankle and rarely pushed the ball downfield, which is where teams have had the most success going against the Patriots talented secondary. He will likely need to do more against the Patriots, who catch a break with Mostert’s injury. The Niners have some talent at wideout with Samuel, Kendrick Bourne and rookie Brandon Aiyuk, but the best pass catcher by far is tight end George Kittle. Kittle is one of the game’s best and will be a huge test for the secondary. Early in the season Joejuan Williams was taking those assignments but lately it’s been combinations of J.C. Jackson and Kyle Dugger in that role. Belichick will likely use a lot of personnel (and double teams) to deal with Kittle, who is by far Garoppolo’s favorite target. If the run defense can force some obvious passing situations, the secondary should be able to create some problems for Garoppolo. If not, it could be a long afternoon.

Special Teams – Edge: Patriots

San Francisco’s Robbie Gould has been one of the game’s most consistent kickers for more than a decade. He’s still going strong and gets the edge over Nick Folk, who has steadied the ship after a few shaky weeks to start the season. Jake Bailey is having an exceptional season with an impressive net average of 47.1 yards. Mitch Wishnowsky has been solid but not at Bailey’s level. Neither side generates much in the return game. San Francisco uses McKinnon on kickoffs and has tried several players on punts with Trent Taylor, Richie James and Dante Pettis all getting chances. James handled those duties Sunday night against the Rams. Gunner Olszewski took care of both kicks and punts against the Broncos and had some shaky moments. He took three kickoffs out of the end zone and only got good results once when he crossed the 30. Otherwise he bobbled one kick and was stopped inside the 20 twice. The Patriots will need better decisions from him going forward as the offense is struggling even with solid field position. Overall, not much to choose between the teams but Folk’s recent upswing earns a slight edge for New England.

TALE OF THE TAPE

Table inside Article
2020 REGULAR SEASON NEW ENGLAND SAN FRANCISCO
Record 2-3 3-3
Divisional Standings 3rd 4th
Total Yards Gained 1,872 2,211
Total Offense (Rank) 374.4 (13) 368.5 (16)
Rush Offense 167.2 (2) 127.8 (11)
Pass Offense 207.2 (25) 240.7 (20)
Points Per Game 21.8 (25) 24.7 (20)
Total Yards Allowed 1,695 1,926
Total Defense (Rank) 339.0 (9) 321.0 (5)
Rush Defense 119.2 (16) 108.3 (10)
Pass Defense 219.8 (9) 212.7 (5)
Points Allowed / Game 22.0 (11T) 21.7 (10)
Possession Avg. 31:27 32:01
Sacks Allowed / Yards Lost 11/63 18/137
Sacks Made / Yards 8/66 10/53
Total Touchdowns Scored 13 18
Penalties Against / Yards 12/139 36/337
Punts / Avg. 13/48.4 21/43.9
Turnover Differential 0 (17T) -1 (19T)
 
49ers vs. Patriots preview | Week 7
 

CONNECTIONS

FORMER PATRIOTS

  • QB Jimmy Garoppolo – (2014-17) – Traded to SF for in 2017 for a second round pick in 2018… Won Super Bowl XLIX and LI with NE.

FORMER 49ERS

  • QB Brian Hoyer – (2017)
  • Receivers Coach Mick Lombardi served as Ast. to the HC – (2013-16)
  • Coaching Assistant. Vinnie Sunseri – (DB 2016)

NEW ENGLAND TIES

  • TE Kyle Juszczyk – College: Harvard – (2009-12)
  • TE Jordan Reed – Hometown: New London, CT High School: New London High
  • DQC Brian Fleury – Coaching: HC Sacred Heart University – (2006-08)
  • Quarterbacks Coach Shane Day – Coaching: UConn – (2012-13)
  • Admin Ast. to the HC Nick Kray – Director of Football Ops: Yale – (2012-13)

PATRIOTS TIES TO SAN FRANCISCO / CALIFORNIA

  • TE Devin Asiasi – College: UCLA Hometown: Shoreview, CA
  • P Jake Bailey – College: Stanford Hometown: Solana Beech, Calif.
  • DB Myles Bryant – Hometown: Pasadena, Calif.
  • LS Joe Cardona – Hometown: El Cajon, Calif
  • WR Julian Edelman – Hometown: Redwood City, Calif.
  • K Nick Folk – Hometown: Sherman Oaks, Calif. LB
  • Cassh Maluia – Hometown: Compton, Calif. WR
  • Matthew Slater – College: UCLA Hometown: Anaheim, Calif.

WORTH NOTING

  • 49ers GM John Lynch signed and participated in 2008 training camp with the Patriots.
  • Former Patriots receiver Wes Welker serves as the 49ers wide receivers coach. Welker played six seasons (2007-12) in NE and currently holds the franchise record for receptions with 672 grabs in 93 games. 
  • 49ers kicker Robbie Gould was originally signed as an undrafted free agent with the Patriots and took part in training camp in 2005 before being waved prior to the season. 
  • San Francisco cornerback Ken Webster was selected 252nd overall by the Patriots in 2019. He was waived by the team in August 2019, signed with Miami and made his NFL debut against the Patriots on 9/15/19.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

  • The Patriots eclipsed 200 yards rushing as a team in each of their first two home games this season, netting 217 Week 1 vs. Miami and 250 Week 3 vs. Las Vegas. Since Bill Belichick became head coach of the Patriots in 2000, New England has amassed two 200-yard rushing games in a season seven times (including 2020) but has never achieved the feat three times in one year.
  • Bill Belichick enters this week third all-time with 275 career regular-season wins, behind George Halas (318) and Don Shula (328).
  • Belichick’s 306 career victories as a heads coach (including postseason) are third-most all-time behind George Halas (324) and Don Shula (347).
  • Julian Edelman enters this game with 619 career regular-season receptions, second-most in team history behind Wes Welker’s 672.
  • With one touchdown catch, Edelman will tie Welker with his 37th career touchdown reception, good for sixth-most in team history.
  • Edelman has 41 career touchdowns overall, good for 11th in franchise history. Gino Cappelletti, Irving Fryar and Larry Garron are tied for eighth with 42 career touchdowns.
  • Entering this week’s game, Edelman has accrued 9,856 career all-purpose yards in the regular season (6,809 receiving, 1,986 punt return, 626 kickoff return, 413 rushing and 22 kickoff fumble return), leaving him 144 yards shy of becoming the fourth player in team history to amass 10,000 career all-purpose yards. Edelman would join Kevin Faulk (12,339), Stanley Morgan (11,468) and Troy Brown (11,106) as the only Patriots to reach the plateau.
  • The Patriots are 22-3 (postseason included) when Julian Edelman catches a touchdown pass.
  • With his next interception, Devin McCourty (27) will tie Mike Haynes for sixth all-time in Patriots history with 28 career interceptions.
  • If McCourty returns another interception for a TD this season, he will tie the team record with two pick-sixes in a single year. The feat has been accomplished nine times.
  • Cam Newton enters Week 7 with 29,912 career regular-season passing yards and needs 88 yards to become the 48th quarterback in NFL history to reach the 30,000-yard passing plateau.
  • Should Newton reach the aforementioned mark, he would become the first player in NFL history to pass for 30,000 yards and rush for 5,000 yards.
  • Newton has scored five rushing touchdowns in 2020, on pace for 16 for the season. That mark would break his own NFL record of 14 rushing touchdowns scored by a QB set in 2011.
  • Newton has two multi-rush TD games so far this season and is one multi-rush TD performance short of matching his own (and others listed below) for most in a single season.
  • Newton has 45 rushing attempts so far in 2020, on pace for 144 for the season. The NFL record for most rushing attempts by an NFL quarterback is 176 in 2019 by Lamar Jackson. Cam Newton’s single-season career-high was 139 rushing attempts in 2017.
  • Newton has the most rushing first downs by quarterback in NFL history with 379 and leads all NFL QBs with 20 through six games in 2020.
  • James White has 24 touchdown receptions in 81 career regular-season games. Brian Westbrook currently holds the record for the fastest running back to reach the 25-TD reception mark, achieving the feat in 87 regular-season games.
  • White needs two receiving touchdowns to tie Larry Garron (26) for the most in franchise history by a running back.
  • White currently sits ninth on the Patriots all-time receptions list with 338. Irving Fryar holds the eighth spot with 363 regular-season receptions as a Patriot.
  • White enters this week with 2,942 career regular-season receiving yards and needs 58 more yards to join Kevin Faulk (3,701) as the only other Patriots RB with 3,000 career receiving yards in the regular season.
  • Since White became a regular contributor on offense in 2015, he has more receptions (333), receiving yards (2,919) and receiving touchdowns (24) than any other running back in the NFL.

IF THE PATRIOTS WIN…

  • New England will improve on the NFL’s best regular-season home record since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002. The Patriots enter Week 7 with a 123- 24 (.837) record in regular-season games and a 142-28 (.835) overall mark at Gillette Stadium.
  • And a player eclipses 100 yards rushing, the team will improve to 53-2 since the 2000 regular season when a player rushes for at least 100 yards.
  • And the team does not commit a turnover, New England will win its 70th game since 2008 without committing a turnover. The Patriots enter Week 7 with a 69-9 record in zero turnover games since 2008.