Don’t be fooled by win / loss records. The reigning NFC champs, the San Francisco 49ers, were within 7 minutes of a Super Bowl Championship with a 10-point lead. Some may say they are suffering from the Super Bowl hangover many teams who have lost the Super Bowl suffer the next season. I would say it has more to do with injuries than anything else.
Injuries have been a big problem with the 49ers. Let’s start with Jimmy Garropolo himself, who is out with a high ankle sprain that I don’t think he is fully recovered from yet. George Kittle, their all-world tight end, has been out but will be back for the team’s match-up against the Pats on Sunday. He presents a huge problem for them. Raheem Mostert, their starting RB, LB Kwon Alexander, S Jimmie Ward and S Jaquiski Tartt are all out for Sunday. Tevin Coleman has been out all season so far. LT Trent Williams is banged up and is questionable, as is RB Jeff Wilson. WR Deebo Samuel is back but has missed significant time.
Garoppolo is an excellent passer. He outperformed MVP Patrick Mahomes through three quarters of the Super Bowl, completing 65% of his passes against the #6 pass defense. Garoppolo completed 59% of his passes more than 15 yards down the field and SF led the league in explosive pass rate and averaged 16.7 ypc.
The 49ers run more pre-snap motion than any team in the league, some 70% of the time. They love to run out of the 21 personnel formation. They use that formation 33% of the time where the league average is 11%. In a Kyle Shanahan offense, it’s not necessarily run first. They used the 4th most play action passes on early downs.
They had a lot of turnover during the off-season. Joe Staley retired and was replaced by a trade for Trent Williams (inj). WR Emmanuel Sanders left via Free Agency to New Orleans. RB Matt Breida was traded to the Dolphins. DT Deforest Bruckner left via free Agency to the Colts. Number 1 pick, Javon Kinlaw, has replaced him nicely. Their number 2 selection, Brandon Ayiuk, has played well while replacing Samuel. Jedrick McKinnon, who was supposed to be the #1 back last year until injury derailed his season, has filled in for both Coleman and Mostert.
San Fran is coming in at 3-3 with losses to Dolphins and Eagles. They have wins against both New York teams. Last week they had a big win against the LA Rams. What team will show up this week? Jimmy G can still be dangerous and they have Kittle, Samuel, Ayiuk and McKinnon.
I usually don’t talk about the Patriots but it is significant that the Patriots got several players back this week. David Andrews helps solidify the OL while he swaps places with Jermaine Eluemunor on the IR. Shaq Mason is also back. Beau Allen is ready to come off the IR as well and Byron Cowart should be returning from the COVID list. This Is a significant boost in personnel. I think they will have their top O-Line combination available for the game with Wynn at LT, Thuney LG, Andrews C, Mason RG, Owenu RT. This should help the pass protection and run game.
Cam Newton’s play, especially his decision making, anticipation and fundamentals need to improve. With three straight days of practice, Newton should have the rust knocked off. I expect Newton to bounce back and it could make for a long day for the 49ers.
The Patriots defense has been playing very well this season. Last week they held Denver without a touchdown and under 20 points. That’s the 4th time this season they have held an opponent to 20 or under.
Posted Under: Patriots News