The San Francisco 49ers’ connections to the New England Patriots extend beyond general manager John Lynch and receivers coach Wes Welker. And there is familiarity on the opposite sideline, as well, beyond a staff that includes Mick Lombardi and Vinnie Sunseri.
Three former Patriots players currently reside on the 49ers’ active roster. Two former 49ers players are under contract with the Patriots to different degrees.
Here’s the list heading into Sunday’s 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff at Gillette Stadium.
Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback – The Eastern Illinois product arrived in New England at pick No. 62 overall in the 2014 NFL draft. And during his stay, Garoppolo checked into 17 games and made a pair of starts to go 63-of-94 passing for 690 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. At the trade deadline in October 2017, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to the 49ers in exchange for a second-rounder that would ultimately become Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson for the Detroit Lions. Garoppolo has started 28 games in the regular season since then, along with Super Bowl LIV. A high-ankle sprain sidelined the 29-year-old QB for a pair of weeks this fall. Garoppolo rebounded with an efficient three-TD, 268-yard performance in San Francisco’s win last Sunday night against the Los Angeles Rams.
Ken Webster, cornerback – The final selection in New England’s 2019 draft class, Webster had his card filled out at No. 252. “Really explosive in terms of his speed. His explosiveness – I mean, like, eye-popping numbers,” Patriots director of player personnel said of Webster during his post-draft press conference. The former Ole Miss corner would be waived at the end of his rookie preseason and claimed by the Miami Dolphins. Webster went on to play in eight games, starting a handful, for Miami last campaign while recording 19 tackles and one pass deflection. The 24-year-old began this campaign on the Dolphins’ practice squad before agreeing to join the 49ers’ active roster midway through September. Webster has since checked into five contests, handling a trio of tackles and 58 percent of the snaps on special teams.
Robbie Gould, kicker – Gould signed with New England as an undrafted free agent back in 2005, in what would be Adam Vinatieri’s final season with the organization. The kicker by way of Penn State then made a three-week stop with the Baltimore Ravens after being waived by the Patriots. But a Pro Bowler and a first-team All-Pro Gould became the following year as a member of the Chicago Bears. Gould, now 37, has been with the 49ers since 2017. He stands with a conversion rate that nears 87 percent over the course of 227 career regular-season games. This season, Gould has gone 8-for-9 on field goals while remaining perfect on extra points.
Brian Hoyer, quarterback – Hoyer has been a member of eight different NFL clubs since entering the league undrafted in 2009. And in March of 2017, the veteran quarterback out of Michigan State agreed to terms with San Francisco. Hoyer made six starts for the 49ers, completing 58 percent of his throws for 1,245 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. He would be released as the corresponding move to the 49ers acquiring Garoppolo. And as the calendar turned to November, Hoyer had returned to the Patriots for a second tour. The 35-year-old is now on his third tour after a season spent with the Indianapolis Colts. He was inactive in Week 6 behind Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham.
Najee Toran, guard – Among the eight Patriots to opt out due to Covid-19 concerns, Toran spent the duration of last season on the New England practice squad. The UCLA Bruin originally signed with the 49ers as a rookie free agent in the spring of 2018. Toran went between the practice squad and the 53-man roster for San Francisco and was retained on a futures contract. The 24-year-old interior offensive lineman later cleared waivers and traveled to Foxborough in September 2019.