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Is Cam Newton still the Patriots’ starting quarterback? ‘Yeah, absolutely,’ says Bill Belichick

Related: Patriots bench Cam Newton in the fourth quarter against 49ers

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots’ game against the San Francisco 49ers ended in disappointing fashion, especially for Cam Newton. The team’s starting quarterback completed just nine of his 15 passing attempts on the day while throwing three interceptions — he is now up to seven on the season — and eventually getting benched early in the fourth period in favor of backup Jarrett Stidham.

But while this decision certainly led to questions about the starting role moving forward after another bad performance by Newton, head coach Bill Belichick was quick to reaffirm his standing following the team’s 33-6 loss to the 49ers. Belichick was asked whether or not the 31-year-old would return as the starter, and his answer was clear as day.

“Yeah, absolutely.”

Belichick would not go much deeper into the matter, but he did give his reasoning behind the decision to insert Stidham into the lineup with the game very much out of hand down 27 points: “Just wanted to give Stid a little experience here.”

Stidham, who has yet to start an NFL game but was brought in late during a game for the second time in the last three weeks, did not fare all that much better than Newton. He completed six of his 10 passing attempts for a combined 64 yards, but also threw an interception on a pass intended for wide receiver Julian Edelman. It was Stidham’s fourth pick in 27 career passing attempts — all coming during mop-up duty.

The quarterback question also was not one asked in the locker room after the game, as Stidham said during his own media availability.

“That wasn’t the message,” he said. “The message after the game was we all have a lot to work on.”

That message was reflected by Belichick during his postgame presser.

“I think we need to do a better job in all areas,” he said after his team fell to 2-4 on the season. “I don’t think there’s anything you could say we don’t need work on. They all work together. Obviously, we weren’t good on third down on either side of the ball, weren’t good in the red area. The opportunities that we have we weren’t able to capitalize on. We turned the ball over, had one takeaway, basically, so we just need to do better everywhere.”

That process of trying to improve will apparently still feature Newton as the leader on the offensive side of the ball.