Late in the game, having already thrown an interception, Jarrett Stidham tripped over his own offensive lineman’s foot and ignominiously flopped to the turf, and that about typified how this game went for the New England Patriots as they got annihilated at home by the San Francisco 49ers.
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The real insiders among you will recognize that Stidham is not the starting quarterback for the Patriots, so for him to even be in the game meant that things had not been going well. Cam Newton had a disaster of a game statistically, completing three passes to 49ers players and only nine to his own teammates.
Things might not have been quite as ugly as the numbers suggest, but they were bad, and he was sat down for Stidham, partly for his own protection and partly just to stop the bad things happening to him.
This was as badly as a Bill Belichick-coached New England team has been dismantled in two decades, and it represents a real crossroads for the team this season as they now slip two games under .500 as the season nears the midway point.
San Francisco, for their part, laid down a marker that they can win serious games, not just games in New Jersey or against teams whose only wins have come against the NFC East. Kyle Shanahan put forward his credentials as the greatest coaching mastermind in the game by shellacking the man who has held that crown for most of his time coaching in Foxboro.
49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo was solid in his attempt to show up the Patriots, but this game was more about what Shanahan’s scheme did than Garoppolo. The 49ers got big games from players like running back Jeff Wilson, rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, and after stumbling with an injured Garoppolo, they are well and truly back on track for the season.
Michael Onwenu was impressive for the Patriots at guard, as he has been most of the season. He allowed just one pressure in 30 pass-blocking snaps, though that one pressure did result in a sack. Sixth-round pick Justin Herron saw a dozen snaps, and tight end Dalton Keene was on the field for 22 snaps, catching the only pass sent his way for 8 yards.
Anfernee Jennings was the only Patriots rookie defender to see any snaps, playing 49 total snaps on defense. Jennings will come out of this game with a rough PFF grade thanks to giving up a catch on all five targets into his coverage. Those catches went for 81 yards and brought up three first downs.
For the 49ers, Brandon Aiyuk had a big game, racking up 45 yards after the catch and looking dangerous any time the ball was in his hands. The team also got snaps out of running back JaMycal Hasty and tight end Charlie Woerner late in the game between injuries and the game being done and dusted.
On defense, Javon Kinlaw was the only rookie to see snaps, playing 23 of them in total. Kinlaw flashed some ability but wasn’t consistently on the stat sheet. He had one defensive stop and one total pressure as a pass-rusher and showed some hustle plays further from the line of scrimmage.
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