The San Francisco 49ers had a difficult job ahead of them when they arrived for Sunday’s game. Coming off an impressive victory last week, the 49ers needed to get the job done on the road against a struggling New England Patriots. San Francisco traveled across the country and treated the Patriots like a sour bowl of chowder. A dominant victory comes in many shapes and sizes. On Sunday, the 49ers offered their vision. Today we take a look at the victory and how the 49ers left the northeast with another road victory.
San Francisco’s offense is without their top pair of running backs in Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman. However, it did not matter on Sunday as Jeff Wilson Jr. had a career day while Jamycal Hasty proved he belongs on the roster. Wilson set a career-high in rushing yards with 112, on 17 carries. More importantly, Wilson rushed for three touchdowns. Hasty added 57 rushing yards of his own on nine carries. It was a punishing ground game for the 49ers. San Francisco encountered a reoccurring defensive front against the Patriots. Typical defensive alignments can rarely do the job of setting the edge against the 49ers’ ground game. New England used a 6-1 alignment with six defensive players at the line of scrimmage and a single player at the second level. It did not matter. The 49ers ran for 197 yards.
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San Francisco outflanked the Patriots with wide splits and motion. Deebo Samuel was again effective on the ground via jet sweeps and quick swing passes. This kept the New England defense moving east and west which opens major holes for the San Francisco ground game. Unfortunately, Wilson went down with a high ankle sprain during the second half. Hasty then saw extended playing time and rewarded head coach Kyle Shanahan. The rookie running back hit openings with speed and power, displaying a jump-cut that rivals 49ers great, Frank Gore. Getting into the fun was fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Juice scored from a couple of yards out on a fullback dive and contributed numerous key blocks to help spring long runs.
Jeff Wilson Jr. with his second TD of the half!@49ers take a 23-3 lead.
— NFL (@NFL) October 25, 2020
The matchup between the 49ers and Patriots was billed as a chess battle between the head coaches, Kyle Shanahan and Bill Belichick. In truth, it was more of a hit job than a matchup between chess masters. The Patriots were overmatched from the start. New England’s defense struggled against the physicality of the San Francisco offense. For every move made by Belichick to stem the tides, Shanahan added a slight tweak to a formation or added motion to get the upper hand. Belicheck first dropped a pair of defenders on the line with his 6-1 formation. He used the approach to slow the Rams down in the Super Bowl. San Francisco adjusted with the wider splits at tight end and full back. On one presnap alignment, Juice was aligned over the right tackle.
However, it wasn’t just the ground game that dominated the Patriots. The San Francisco passing attack caught New England off guard. Shanahan expected the Patriots to crowd the line so he countered with motion to gain leverage to the outside. He expected New England would key on the swing passes outside so he called for tight end George Kittle to fake the screen block and leak over the middle. That simple play kept the Patriots on their toes and helped open up everything underneath. It is rare to see a Belichick team get outsmarted, let alone beaten in this way. However, it wasn’t long before Shanahan called the checkmate on the legendary coach.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) October 25, 2020
A Strong Defense
Dominating the opposition is a full-time job. On Sunday, the 49ers defense joined in on the fun. A defense, ravaged with injuries to every position group, demolished an anemic New England offense. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh called a solid game and benefited from the lack of receiving threats for the Patriots. San Francisco missed both starting safeties on Sunday but was rarely pressured in the passing game. New England finished with 241 yards of total offense and converted on one of six third-down attempts. It got ugly quickly and did not let up as the game grew further out of hand. New England’s first offensive drive followed the opening San Francisco touchdown. The 49ers immediately focused on slowing the New England ground game. A quick first down quickly gave way to a punt following two short runs and an incompletion. It would become a recurring theme.
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San Francisco’s defense held the Patriots to six points, a field goal in each half. The unit forced four turnovers on the day, all interceptions. Fred Warner added to his All-Pro campaign with an athletic interception on a low pass. Emmanuel Moseley used his second game back from injury to snag a deep throw from Cam Newton. The interception ended any last-second threat the Patriots had posed to finish the first half. Rookie cornerback, Jamar Taylor, added two more interceptions. The turnovers all had a major theme in common, the 49ers defense swarmed the football and were ready to take advantage of opportunities. It was an impressive job done by a unit missing more than half their starting lineup. Ahead of a challenging clash against the Seattle offense, Saleh’s men are primed and ready.
FOUR! Count em, 4 picks for the #49ers defense today!
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) October 25, 2020
The Job Is Not Done
The 49ers have dominated the opposition in consecutive weeks, both where the team entered as underdogs. San Francisco now sits at 4-3 but remains in the basement of the NFC West. Without a doubt, the 49ers have the chance to make noise and shoot up the playoff standings. It was a momentum-building victory and have the 49ers poised to go on a run similar to last season. Seattle awaits next Sunday as the 49ers are once again on the road. A victory against the Seahawks puts San Francisco into immediate playoff contention. The job is not yet done for the 49ers.
– Ryan Adverderada is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage 49ers. He also covers the Arizona Cardinals for Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on Follow @ryanadverderada