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Patriots vs. 49ers: Fan Notes from the Game

Related: Patriots vs 49ers recap: 33-6 blowout loss sees New England outmatched in all three phases

Patriots vs 49ers Staff Photo By Matt Stone/ MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

What the hell was that sound?

I’ll tell you what that was, my friends. That was the sound of the Patriots once again stinking up the joint for the third consecutive loss. That was the sound of a Patriots team unable to do anything on offense and getting gashed on defense. That was the sound of a whole generation of Pats fans that literally can’t remember the last time their team dropped three straight.

Was it the sound of the season going down the tubes? Not quite. But it’s certainly circling the drain.

  • This was supposed to be one one the marquis matchups of 2020; the Patriots, fresh off a bye, hosting their former hero-turned Super Bowl QB for the 49ers. A potential Tom Brady vs. Jimmy Garoppolo game. Instead we got a Niners team absolutely ravaged by injuries and a Patriots team that had only held back-to-back practices twice for the entirety of October. We also got a game that was more or less over by halftime where the only Patriots highlight I can think of was a Devin McCourty interception that came on a pretty bad overthrow.
  • On the plus side... holy jeez is Jimmy G a good looking guy.
  • I had absolutely no idea that National Tight End Day was a thing. Probably because the Patriots don’t have any tight ends.
  • The 49ers only faced one third down on their opening TD drive, a 3rd and 3 where Jimmy G should have been stopped twice in the backfield. Other than that, they moved the ball at will. New England had a lot of trouble with middle crossers and the stretch plays that require the kind of rangy linebacker speed that’s going to have me screaming for Dont’a Hightower in my sleep.
  • I was shocked to learn that George Kittle only had five grabs for 55 yards, as I felt like he was on my TV screen all night long. Which he was, as a blocker setting the edge to allow whoever the Niners wanted to turn the corner and gain yards. The only 49ers runner who didn’t average at least four yards per carry last night was Deebo Samuel, who is a receiver.
  • It might be time to begin the process of accepting the fact that this Patriots offense just plain stinks. They did a whole lot of nothing with what seemed like extremely limited opportunities. Cam Newton’s first pick of the day was one of the worst decisions I can remember — I mean throwing to a triple covered Jakobi Meyers? Really? — and there’s just nothing dynamic about any of the skill players. Once SF went up 16-3, that was more or less the game, as this Patriots team isn’t built to come from behind.
  • And we can’t chalk this one up to a lack of practices or inconsistency in the schedule, either. The Patriots had as normal a week as you’re going to get in 2020, and it’s not like the 49ers don’t have injuries to key players at every single level.
  • Cam Newton is struggling at every single level. Decision making. Release time. Timing. Reading the defense the same way his receivers are. He’s just a bad quarterback right now. The good news is that he knows it, and I have yet to hear him place blame anywhere but at his own feet. He has the skills to be successful...just not sure how he gets there.
  • Did the 49ers pass the ball once on their second scoring drive? I don’t think they did.
  • New England just couldn’t shed their blocks yesterday. A lot of one-on-ones, and they lost them, particularly on the edge. The 49ers had them running from one sideline to the other like Daffy Duck in the 1980 Classic “Daffy Flies North.” Then they’d power it up the middle for big chunks and the Patriots weren’t able to adjust.
  • It certainly didn’t help that the D was on the field for 24 of the first 30 minutes of the game, and 40 minutes total. New England’s longest drive of the entire game lasted all of four minutes, with no other drive going more than three. Their last three drives of the first half — that ended in interception, three and out, interception — went for two minutes combined. Tough to ask the defense to stop a stretch rushing attack with zero rest in between scores.
  • Every time Deebo Samuel touches the ball, I die a little bit inside. So I was more or less a corpse by halftime.
  • A second down screen to Jakob Johnson that resulted in a fumble is the 2020 Patriots offense defined by a single play.
  • Seriously, this is just a difficult team to analyze and break down. There are flaws at almost every level, and yesterday even the team’s strongest unit — the secondary — had all kind of communication issues. Tackling was atrocious and nobody really seemed like they wanted to be there.
  • Live look at me when Damien Harris ran for a first down to open up the third quarter.
  • Seeing Wes Welker on the sidelines as a wide receivers coach was probably the highlight of my day yesterday. It seems like it was forever ago that he was on the team, and for some reason there’s a small subfacet of Patriots fans who don’t look back on Welker’s tenure with New England with anything other than affection. That’s absolutely nuts to me. I mean should he have caught that pass in the 2011 Super Bowl that would have more or less iced the game? Probably. It wasn’t an easy grab, he had to twist his body in mid-air to come down with it. But come on, people.
  • When the score was 30-6 and the game was over (even though it was more or less over at 16-3), it became more about what’s actually the most important part of this season: development of the younger guys. And from that standpoint, a few big positives stand out.
  • Joe Thuney is still a question mark in terms of his future with the team, but the offensive line has potential to be among the league’s best and most cohesive in the league. The Pats found a gem in Michael Onwenu, and this is all without their franchise right tackle.
  • There’s some excellent versatility at the running back position.
  • The receivers are all fairly skilled and bring a specific skillset to the table. If (and this is a Vince Wilfork-sized If) N’Keal Harry can emerge as a #1 receiver and one of the rookie TEs works out, there’s a fantastic group of guys that create mismatches.
  • These young linebackers are learning the hard way what it takes to thrive in a Bill Belichick defense.
  • You know what kind of stinks? The Patriots are probably going to put it all together too little too late and end up doing just enough to screw themselves out of a decent draft pick.
  • And yes — this season is going to finish. I would have argued otherwise as early as two weeks ago, but the NFL has made it very clear that they’re playing a full 16 games come hell or high water.
  • Make no mistake, don’t apply any kind of spin, and don’t pretend otherwise: the Patriots got absolutely spanked yesterday. The 49ers pinned the Patriots down and kept flicking their head while chanting “name five cereals! Name five cereals!” over and over. This banged up, inconsistent, streaky 49ers team completely manhandled the Patriots to the point where they didn’t have a single punt until there was 3 minutes left and the game was well out of hand. If you want to try and make a case that that isn’t the case...go right ahead. But facts are facts.
  • Also a fact: the Patriots also went winless for the entire month of October — you know, that month when the real football was supposed to start and the team was going to begin rounding into shape.
  • But Brady’s just a system QB, right everyone? He’s overrated, and Belichick can win with anyone, correct?
  • That said...are Patriots haters happy that New England is bad this year? Or is it kind of offset by the fact that Tommy B is finding success down in Tampa? I’d like to hope that folks are just reveling in this. It’s been a very, very, very long wait. I guess you can try and spin it by talking about Brady’s weapons down there...I don’t know. I guess I’m just fascinated by those who are just hell-bent on dying on the Tom Brady stinks hill.
  • The hardest working man in show business today is whatever poor schlub has to find Patriots offensive highlights to mix in with the rest of this one for the highlight reel. I’ll do us all the courtesy of not linking to it here.

The 2020 Patriots aren’t very good. In fact, they kind of stink. And you know what? That’s 100% fine. At this point, there are too many holes on offense to make any kind of trade or expect the cavalry to come and save the season. Maybe they’ll turn it around, but I just don’t see it at this point. The talent isn’t there and there’s just too much youth and inexperience on the team. This may sound like the incoherent ramblings of a drunkard, but NFL teams are allowed to have down years, and I feel like this topsy turvy season is as good a year as any for the Pats to be lousy. Nothing has made sense about this year since March anyway, so having to ride with this team as they limp to a 7-9 finish seems par for the course. We’re long, long overdue for something like this, so we may as well try to make the best of it.