In a tale of two halves, the Patriots come out struggling in the first half with only 13 points scored and also allowing 10 points to the 49ers as well. But in the second half (more specifically the fourth quarter), it was all Patriots. They would go on to score 17 points in the fourth quarter while holding San Francisco to only seven points. It wasn’t the prettiest of victories for New England, but they were able to make some solid half-time adjustments on defense while getting their offense going in the second half as well.
In the first half, the Patriots limped into half-time after two great offensive drives that ended in touchdown throws from Tom Brady. They would not score again in the half and actually allowed the 49ers to be within three points of them come half-time. But despite the Patriots coming out slow even to begin the second half, they would take over this game and play more like the team they have shown this season when the fourth quarter hit. New England would score two more touchdowns and a field goal in the fourth quarter while the 49ers struggled up until their last drive of the game, after the game was out of hand.
Brady had another great game with 280 yards and four touchdowns on 24 of 40 passing. He spread the ball out evenly with Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola, Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman and James White all having multiple receptions. He threw touchdown passes to Mitchell, Amendola, Edelman and White as players stepped up with Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan out. The Patriots have three players with at least 60 yards receiving with White (63), Edelman (77) and Mitchell (98) all hitting that threshold.
One player that stood out was Mitchell, who finished with career highs across the board with four receptions, 98 yards and a touchdown. The highlight of it being his 56 yard catch and run for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Despite Gronkowski having the miss this game, Martellus Bennett was non-existent in this game with one reception for 14 yards on only two targets.
Going up against a run defense that had 180 rushing yards per game coming into this game, the Patriots were able to rely on their run attack today. Anchored by the resurgent LeGarrette Blount, the Patriots finished with 171 yards on 30 carries, good for a 5.7 yards per carry average. Blount had 124 yards on 19 carries for 6.5 yards per carry. Dion Lewis made his 2016 season debut today after missing about a year due to a knee injury that wound up needing multiple surgeries to repair. Lewis finished with five rushing attempts for 23 yards and three receptions for 26 yards on 21 snaps. He was tied for the third most targets on the team (five) and looked like his 2015 self in his first game back.
The Patriots would finish with an impressive of 444 total yards, 28 first downs, a 50% third down conversion percentage and only allowed one sack on Brady. The Patriots also had no turnovers today nor and only had one fumble. It was a solid game for the Patriots when accounting for the defense they faced, which ranked dead last in categories such as points per game and rushing yards per game.
The 49ers started off hot on offense but would quickly struggle afterwards up until the last drive of the game for them. They had scored 10 points in the first half but only managed to score one touchdown in the second half. After starting seven of eight in passing, Colin Kaepernick finished nine of 22 and 16 of 30 overall. He threw two touchdowns while also having 32 rushing yards on four attempts. The 49ers had three receivers with more than 40 yards (Vance McDonald, Shaun Draughn, Garrett Celek) but none that hit the 50 yard mark. Kaepernick also spread the ball around with at least two receptions to six different receivers and targeting nine players overall.
In their rushing attack, the 49ers fared much better with 122 yards on 27 attempts for a 4.5 yards per carry average. Carlos Hyde showed well in this game, slipping tackles left and right, finishing with 86 rushing yards and 110 yards in total from scrimmage on 22 touches. DuJuan Harris was the only other player with a rushing attempt, finishing with four yards on four carries.
The Patriots defense was able to hold the 49ers to 299 total yards and 19 points overall, so it was a solid game on the stat-sheet. Beyond that, the Patriots struggled (to begin the game at least) containing the 49ers in the passing game while also having issues stopping the run as well. Jabaal Sheard was a healthy scratch in this game despite being their second leading player in sacks (3.5) entering today. The Patriots had five sacks, all in the first half, which is the season-high for the team. Coming into this game, New England only had 16 sacks in nine games and will walk away with 21 sacks in 10 games thus far. Patrick Chung, Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Rob Ninkovich and Malcolm Butler all finished with a sack apiece.
Overall, it was a solid performance from the Patriots against an underwhelming opponent after some early struggles. This is a nice bounce-back performance following the hard-fought loss they have in week 10 against the Seahawks. The Patriots will head to the Meadowlands in week 12 to face the New York Jets in a divisional match-up leading the division with a 8-2 record.