Who says you can’t go home again?
Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers were in Foxborough today for the first time since Garoppolo was traded to San Francisco, and it went well, very well, as the 49ers beat the Patriots, 33-6 and improve to 4-3. They handed New England its worst home loss since Bill Belichick became the head coach.
With a 33-6 final score, the 49ers have officially handed the Patriots their biggest loss by scoring margin in Foxboro since Bill Belichick took over as head coach https://t.co/kKzNnHYIHl
— ProFootballReference (@pfref) October 25, 2020
“…[W]hen you play defense the way our guys have been playing, we’re running the ball like we have been, just how physical all our guys have been playing, every play it seems is like the last play for our guys,” said 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan, who out coached maybe the greatest coach of all time today. “I’m just very impressed with the character of our guys individually, which adds up collectively. Those guys play like it’s their last play every down. When you can do that for an entire game, you play smart, don’t turn it over, usually good things happen.”
For Garoppolo, it was a sweet trip down memory lane.
“It was a cool week,” Garoppolo said. “Just a lot of emotions, a lot of memories. Especially coming back here, seeing the same stadium, hearing the same songs they used to play, a lot of memories came back. A lot of emotions out there. But it was a fun night.”
And was just a little more fun beating his old coach so handily?
“It really was never in my mind,” Garoppolo said. “I obviously wanted to come here and get a win. To me it didn’t matter if we won by 1 or 100. It was go and get the win. That was the mindset we had this week. Same mindset we had last week. Just got to keep that mindset the rest of the season.”
During the 49ers’ struggles earlier in the season, they talked about their lack of complementary football. That issue seems to have been fixed the last two games. The depleted defense did not play depleted, as it had four interceptions and held Patriots’ QB Cam Newton to 98 yards passing and 19 yards rushing.
“That group, you can’t say enough about them,” said Garoppolo. “It starts with the D-line. Those guys get after the quarterback, especially when we get them a little lead like that. Just let the dogs loose. It just carries out. Guys making plays. Four turnovers today. Whenever you can do something like that as a defense, it helps the whole team. I think we played great complementary football. Yeah, that’s a great recipe for a win.”
Newton was out of sorts all day – and that’s putting it nicely – and was benched in the fourth quarter after throwing his third interception late in the third. That interception was to CB Jamar Taylor, who had two today. Emmanuel Moseley had one two, as the whole secondary played well, despite being without starting safety Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward. Marcell Harris and Tarvarius Moore started in their place.
“Extremely impressed,” Shanahan said. “Both those safeties to come in and have the game they didJamar Taylor, who wasn’t here a few weeks ago. He was one of the tough guys to not keep ahold of. Had a hell of a camp with us. Great guy. Plays so hard. Told him he’d probably be back when we ended up having to let him go. He did have his opportunity. Since he came in, he played unbelievable. Today, two picks, I thought it was huge.”
Linebacker Fred Warner continued his All-Pro season with an interception in the second quarter. Newton threw a bad pass and Warner capitalized.
“We just came out and they ran, I guess you call it a drift by the receiver, and it ended up turning into an over route when I was trying to carry him and Cam made a bad throw and I came up with it,” Warner said. “That’s a total defensive effort right there. God is so good, I can’t do anything without Him and I’m just thankful to be able to get that one and try to spark the team a little bit. But the entire team as a whole, getting those turnovers were huge for us today.”
Garoppolo played well enough to win, finishing the day 20-of-25 for 277 yards and two interceptions, though that second interception is a little deceiving.
The story of the offense was the run game, with the 49ers running the ball 37 times for 197 yards. Jeff Wilson, Jr., who was listed as questionable on Friday, had 112 yards rushing on 17 carries scored three touchdowns.
“Jeff Wilson goes to a dark place before every single game,” said 49ers’ tight end George Kittle. “It is different than it is in practice. You can tell he is angry. He attacks it. He wants contact, he deals contact. He delivers pain. It is awesome. You can just see it in his eyes. He is a totally different person, the way he runs. It is crazy. I love being on the field with Jeff Wilson. The way he carries the football, the way he makes people look at him after he is tackled. He is an absolute monster.”
Unfortunately, Wilson left the game after his third touchdown with what the 49ers fear is a high-ankle sprain. Shanahan said they will know more tomorrow.
Rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk had his first 100-yard game with six receptions for 115 yards, and he did against a very talented Patriots’ secondary.
“I think these past couple of weeks is the type of football we know and that we should have been playing,” Aiyuk said. “It definitely gives us confidence but we know we are supposed to play like this. We just need to keep on working to continue to play like this.”
Fullback Kyle Juszczyk had a rushing touchdown and was a blocking machine, while wide receiver Deebo Samuel had five receptions for 65 yards on five target before leaving the game with a hamstring injury.
At 4-3, there’s still a lot of work to be done, but this team has shown up the last two weeks.
“I think that it is the energy that goes around, obviously weeks back we knew the energy had to be picked up and the urgency had to be picked up,” Aiyuk said. “Just throughout the week, I felt like the urgency was there and it continued on to today.”
The 49ers head to Seattle next week to take on the division-rival Seahawks before coming back home to player the Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football. On to Seattle.