David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports


Recapping 49ers-Patriots; and reviewing my five keys to victory predictions

Oct 26, 2020 at 12:53 PM


There are no two ways about it, the San Francisco 49ers' performance against the New England Patriots was about as well-rounded a win as you'll see in the National Football League. The 49ers gave the Patriots their worst home defeat of the Bill Belichick era, and did so by absolutely dominating on both sides of the ball. The 49ers came out firing from the opening kickoff, scoring a touchdown on their opening drive, which happened to be the first opening drive touchdown surrendered by the Patriots in their last 32 home games.

The 49ers were able to generate nearly double the offensive yards the Patriots had, a testament to how locked in the 49ers were in all facets of the game. The offense averaged 7.4 yards per play, while the defense was able to hold the Patriots offense to a paltry 4.9 yards per play in comparison. The time of possession battle was dominated by the 49ers, as they held the ball for nearly 40 minutes, demonstrating their ability to run the ball and control the tempo of the game. All in all, this was a resounding victory that showed just how complete this 49er football team is.

Going into the game, I gave five keys for a 49er victory, so I'll go ahead and recap the predictions, and how they actually panned out in the game.

49ers have more than 25 rushing attempts
How it went: The 49ers ran the ball 37 times for 197 yards and 4 touchdowns.

The 49ers ran the ball with authority and opened up the play action pass game as a result, allowing the offense to function at its full potential. The fact that a 3rd-, possibly a 4th-, string running back in Jeff Wilson Jr. was able to step in and deliver the impressive performance (17 carries for 112 yards, 3 touchdowns) he did, displayed how much depth the team has at the running back position. The 49ers improved to 4-0 when they eclipse 25 rushing attempts, and remain 0-3 when they have fewer than 25.

Win the battle on third down
How it went: The 49ers were 5-9 (55%) on third down conversions on offense, while the defense held the Patriots to 1-6 (16%) on third down.

The 49ers were incredibly efficient on offense, as they only found themselves in 9 third downs all game, largely due to their effectiveness on first and second downs. When they did find themselves in third down, they converted at over a 50% clip, allowing them to string together drives. The defense held the Patriots offense to a 16% conversion rate on third down, allowing only one conversion in the entire game. Winning the third down battle is vitally important in any game, and the 49ers dominated third down on both sides of the ball.

Force Cam Newton to beat you with his arm
How it went: Newton finished the game 9/15 for 98 yards, with 3 interceptions and a passer rating of 39.7.

The 49ers executed this key to perfection. By slowing the Patriots rushing attack enough on early downs, they forced the Patriots to throw due to the down and distance they faced regularly on third downs. The 49er offense scoring early and with efficiency, as well as the 20-point deficit that the Patriots faced at halftime, clearly forced the Patriots to throw more than they would have liked to, while effectively limiting how they would be able to run the ball in the second half.

Put Jimmy Garoppolo in a position to succeed
How it went: Garoppolo finished the game 20/25 for 277 yards, with 2 interceptions and a passer rating of 79.5.

The numbers here can be a little misleading, as Garoppolo had an interception on a last second Hail Mary in the final seconds of the second quarter, and the lack of touchdown passes was largely due to the success the 49ers had running the ball in the red zone, which is not an indictment on Garoppolo. The ability to run the ball opened up the play action for Garoppolo and the 49er offense (where I have pointed out he is at his best throwing the football), and as a result the pass game was extremely efficient as Garoppolo completed 80% of the passes he threw. Throughout the game, Garoppolo stepped up and made and big throws, gaining 13 first downs through the air, and even adding a scramble for a first down with his legs. Kyle Shanahan has done a much better job tailoring a gameplan around Garoppolo's strengths over the last two weeks, and it's no coincidence the team has produced better performances as a result.

Do not giveaway first downs
How it went: The 49ers surrendered 2 first downs via penalty against the Patriots.

The 49ers improved to 4-0 on the year when their opponents have fewer than 3 first downs via 49er penalties. One of the two penalties that led to a Patriots first down was a very questionable roughing the passer call. Regardless, the team was much more disciplined on the defensive side of the ball than it was in its 3 losses this season. I spoke about how important it is to be disciplined when playing a Bill Belichick-coached team, and with the exception of a couple offensive holding penalties, the 49ers did a fantastic job showing restraint in this game.

Final Score Prediction 49ers 23 - Patriots 20
How it went: The 49ers trounced the Patriots by a final score of 33-6.

I had the 49ers winning this game, but I expected it to be a much tighter game than it ended up being. This was the most complete team performance that we have seen from this 49er squad since the NFC Championship Game last season, and the 49ers will look to carry the momentum of back to back wins into this week as they get set to travel to Seattle to take on the first place Seahawks.
The views 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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