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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports


49ers vs. Patriots - Keys to Victory and Score Prediction

Matt Andruscavage
Oct 24, 2020 at 2:14 PM


It has been a whirlwind of emotions over the course of one week. Last Saturday, there was a lot of unrest and a feeling of desperation as the season hung in the balance as the 49ers were set to face the Rams. San Francisco won, bumping its record to 3-3. As the 49ers travel to New England to take on the Patriots tomorrow, not much has changed. This is another must-win as the Niners need to continue to collect all important wins to stay afloat until reinforcements return.

After the win against Los Angeles, the injury bug continued to claim victims. The latest list includes Raheem Mostert, Jaquiski Tartt, Trent Williams, and Ben Garland. It got worse after the news that Richard Sherman, Dee Ford, Jordan Reed, Weston Richburg, Julian Taylor, and Ronald Blair would all likely not be available until Week 12 following the bye week. Lastly, safety Jimmie Ward injured his quad in Thursday's practice and will be inactive.

However, there are a few positives. Trent Williams is listed as questionable, but Coach Shanahan is optimistic that he will play. Jeff Wilson Jr. could also be active against New England. Tevin Coleman and K'Waun Williams could both return next week against Seattle. And lastly, Jimmy Garoppolo's ankle continues to improve so it appears he should be all the way back from that high ankle sprain he suffered against the Giants.

Against the Patriots, the 49ers will have all but two of their corners back as Dontae Johnson will also be healthy enough to play. At safety, despite missing both starters, Marcel Harris and Tarvarius Moore are both capable starters with experience and Johnathan Cyprien will likely be active for the first time this season.


Here are five keys to winning this game for the 49ers:

Where and When: Sunday October 25th at 1:25 PM PT at Gillette Stadium

1) Attack the weakness of New England


The Patriots are ranked 16th against the run (#31 in DVOA) and should be vulnerable. Despite the loss of Raheem Mostert, expect a good outing from JaMycal Hasty. Hasty has a good burst and is able to finish runs similar to the way Mostert does and has a terrific chance to have a breakout game.

With Jerick McKinnon also contributing both on the ground and in the air and the occasional runs from Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, the rushing attack should provide enough offensive output to allow the Shanahan offense to control the clock, set up the play-action, and allow the offense to put up enough points to get a win.


2) Do not let Cam Newton win with his legs


Despite losing 18-12 to the Denver Broncos last week, Cam Newton was able to run ten times for 76 yards and a touchdown. This is something the 49ers must not let happen. If Newton is able to scramble and move the chains, it will put much more pressure on a defense that is playing without several of its key parts.

Dre Greenlaw and Fred Warner will be leading the defense which hopes to contain Newton and put him in a position to commit turnovers, like last week when he threw two interceptions. If San Francisco can keep Newton from making plays on the ground, the likelihood of leaving New England with a win goes up dramatically.

3) Do not turn the ball over


If the Patriots are going to win, it will be because the offense controlled the clock and forced turnovers. This is where Kyle Shanahan's offense must take care of the football and flip the script on New England. This may be somewhat of an ugly game with a number of punts, but Jimmy Garoppolo and the rest of the offense must not commit turnovers and give the Patriots a short field.

4) Win on 3rd down and bring the pressure


Much like 2018, the 49ers having some difficulty bringing pressure off the edges, thus are not making opposing quarterbacks very uncomfortable. Kerry Hyder Jr. and Kevin Givens have been pleasant surprises. Javon Kinlaw's ten pressures are tied for the most among rookies. These are good things, but the sacks have not been occurring anywhere close to last year's rate.

While the 49ers defense has still been a stout unit overall, despite the ridiculous amount of injuries it has sustained, Robert Saleh's unit must put forth another good effort if San Francisco is going to beat New England. That means getting off the field on third downs, not allowing Newton to run, and certainly it means getting pressure on Newton, which hopefully results in sacks and turnovers.

5) Continue to put Garoppolo in positions to succeed


Last week, the game plan to get the offense going was a masterful one. Shanahan will have to put forth a similar plan to get Jimmy Garoppolo in another good position to win. This does not mean that Garoppolo must use trickery to keep himself from having to make downfield throws. He can do that. It simply means use the weapons that are available, play within the system, and get the ball out quick. When Garoppolo gets the ball out quick, he is successful.


Hopefully we will see Garoppolo get the ball out and be accurate. If the receivers, in turn, do not drop the ball, the passing attack should have a good day. The protection has to be there as well.

Prediction


JaMycal Hasty will have a good day on the ground, which will open up things for the passing game. Cam Newton will turn the ball over and the defense will have another inspired performance. This might be somewhat of an ugly one, but San Francisco improves to 4-3.

49ers 24, Patriots 20
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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