David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo revels in triumphant return to New England

Oct 25, 2020 at 6:13 PM--

His numbers weren't perfect, but aside from that, things went as well as they possibly could have for 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in his first game against his former team on Sunday.

Garoppolo and the 49ers marched into Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on Sunday and delivered a 33-6 drubbing of the New England Patriots in the first meeting between the two teams since the 2017 trade that sent Garoppolo from New England to San Francisco in exchange for a second-round draft pick. The loss was the worst home defeat the Patriots have had in their 20-plus seasons with Bill Belichick as head coach and left Garoppolo on a high note in his return to his former home.

"It was an exciting night," Garoppolo told reporters after the game after throwing for 277 yards on 20 of 25 passing with two interceptions. "A lot of emotions. I couldn't have imagined it going any better than this."

The win was the second in 49ers team history over Belichick and their second consecutive win at Gillette Stadium after knocking off the Patriots in December of 2012 by the score of 41-34. That loss was one of just nine the Patriots had at home over the previous ten years coming into this season, which means the 49ers have been able to accomplish a rarity in each of their past two trips to Foxborough. A win as dominant as the one the 49ers had Sunday wasn't something anyone could have envisioned, but coming out of Gillette Stadium with a victory was certainly part of the plan for the 49ers and Garoppolo.

"I obviously wanted to come here and get a win, but to me it didn't matter if we won by one or if we won by 100," Garoppolo said. "It was just go and get the win. That was the mindset we had this week, same as we had last week, and we've just got to keep that mindset the rest of the season."

The win capped off a week that served as an enjoyable walk down memory lane for Garoppolo, who was a popular player during his three-plus seasons with the Patriots even though he didn't see much playing time behind Tom Brady.

"It was a cool week," Garoppolo said. "Just a lot of emotions, a lot of memories, especially coming back here, seeing the same stadium, hearing the same songs that they used to play. A lot of memories came back. There were a lot of emotions out there, but it was a fun night."

Garoppolo, who was a second-round selection of the Patriots in the 2014 NFL Draft, most likely had some extra incentive coming into his first meeting against his former team. He might not have let it show during pregame practices, according to tight end George Kittle.

"It's the same every single week," Kittle said after the win. "I don't know if it was any different. He was locked in during the week, locked into the game plan, leads our guys every single play, every single time we're in the huddle. He just gives us that energy to go out there and dominate."

But once the game got underway, Garoppolo may have had an edge to him that helped feed the 49ers as they steamrolled their way to their most impressive win of the season so far.

"Just complete poise, but still, you could feel the excitement," said wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who caught six passes for 115 yards in the win. "You could feel the energy bouncing off of him. But more than anything, just poised, and we all felt that. We felt everything he was giving off."

Garoppolo was clearly happy after the win over the Patriots and will surely be fond of his return to New England for years to come. He'll have to move on from it quickly, however, as the 4-3 49ers head into a pivotal road game next week against the NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks. They'll certainly have all the momentum they need after the win they were able to put together on Sunday.

"We're in a good spot right now," Garoppolo said. "We're playing well, all three phases. We're playing together, and I think it's just a mindset that we have as a group. You could feel it -- felt it in the locker room today from the guys, felt it all week in practice. It's a good feeling when you're in that groove. We've just got to keep this thing going and keep stacking (wins)."

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