NE-SF grades: Patriots’ backfield trio impresses in win over 49ers

Highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Patriots' Week 11 win over the 49ers.

| 2 weeks ago
LeGarrette Blount

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

NE-SF grades: Patriots’ backfield trio impresses in win over 49ers


New England Patriots 30, San Francisco 49ers 17

Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Patriots’ win over the 49ers.

New England Patriots

Brady weathers storm in first half, takes off in second

Quarterback grade: Tom Brady, 69.7

QB Tom Brady has looked pretty mortal the past two weeks after shredding defenses for his first five games of the season. Against San Francisco, Brady struggled until about the 3:00 mark in the third quarter, but made the necessary adjustments against a 49ers defense that hasn’t really stopped anyone all season. The future Hall-of-Famer was on fire when under pressure, completing 70 percent of his passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 152.1. Wet conditions hurt Brady’s deep ball, as he completed just one-of-six deep passes (throws traveling 20+ yards in air), but the one completed pass was an incredible scramble and throw to rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell for a 56-yard TD.

Tom Brady vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

RT Marcus Cannon, 82.9

LT Nate Solder, 82.7

WR Julian Edelman, 76.4

RG Shaq Mason, 76.1

RB LeGarrette Blount, 74.3 

Backfield trio impressive splitting snaps and touches

Bruising RB LeGarrette Blount got the bulk of the touches and rumbled his way to 124 yards on 19 carries with 80 coming after contact. Dion Lewis made his first appearance of the year after coming back from injury and showed no signs of rust; he had eight touches (five rushes, three receptions) for 49 yards and forced three missed tackles. James White didn’t get any carries, but caught all six of his targets for 62 yards and a touchdown, good for a passer rating of 149.3 when targeted.

Top defensive grades:

CB Logan Ryan, 91.6

DI Alan Branch, 85

CB Eric Rowe, 82.9

LB Dont’a Hightower, 82.6

FS Devin McCourty, 78.6

Cornerback duo shuts down 49ers’ passing attack

The entire Patriots’ defense had an impressive afternoon, with no single player racking up the stat sheet; four different players notched a sack apiece, and LB Dont’a Hightower was the only player with more than three defensive stops. CB Logan Ryan was easily the best player on the field for New England, as he allowed just two catches for 7 yards on six targets, recording two pass defenses. Counterpart Eric Rowe had almost an equally impressive game, surrendering one catch for 7 yards on five targets; Rowe also broke up one pass.

San Francisco 49ers

Quarterback grade: Colin Kaepernick, 36.1

Kaepernick unable to generate enough through the air

QB Colin Kaepernick struggled for most the game, and outside of a couple of throws on the team’s final drive, failed to move the offense efficiently down the field. Missing on six of his eight passes beyond 20 yards, Kaepernick helped himself by scrambling for 31 yards to extend drives, but his lack of touch ultimately undid him, as he consistently missed his intended target. Under pressure on 17 of his 37 dropbacks, Kaepernick completed just five-of-10 pass attempts when facing pressure for 65 yards.

Colin Kaepernick vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

LT Joe Staley, 77.2

TE Vance McDonald, 76.8

HB Carlos Hyde, 76.6

TE Garrett Celek, 71.3

WR Christopher Harper, 70 

HB Carlos Hyde paves his own yards

Former Ohio State Buckeye Carlos Hyde impresses when he is able to stay healthy, and he showed his ability against New England, forcing five missed tackles on just 19 carries, averaging 3.47 yards per carry after contact. Hyde wasn’t helped in any way by his offensive line, as not a single player graded positively in run blocking, with C Daniel Kilgore faring the “best,” with a run-blocking grade of 47.6.

Top defensive grades:

DI DeForest Buckner, 79

ED Ahmad Brooks, 77.9

CB Jimmie Ward, 77.3

CB Tramine Brock, 76.5

ED Cornellius Carradine, 76

Few bright spots in a valiant effort

The most impressive part of this game was that it was 13-10 deep into the third quarter before Tom Brady started doing Tom Brady things—that’s when things unraveled. Rookie defensive lineman DeForest Buckner continues to improve, recording seven QB hurries. Outside of Buckner, the 49ers’ pass-rush recorded just one sack, one hit, and six hurries. CB Jimmie Ward minimized the impact of his six surrendered catches, as he allowed just 70 yards and recorded a pass defense.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Logan Ryan, CB, Patriots

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

| Analyst

John is an analyst for Pro Football Focus and former safety for the University of Kansas Jayhawks (2004–2006).

  • Robert Anasi

    Interesting that PFF praises the Patriots defense when the general consensus out there is that it struggled. McCourty and linebackers and safeties in particular are getting skewered.

    • kilgoretrout

      Right? The Boston radio shows are all somber about the (road) win; theme of the day “what’s wrong the Pat’s D?”

      But they gave up 17, (7 in garbage time) and the team is 8-2 and third in the league in scoring defense. too many Pat’s fans complain unless the Pat’s win 50-0. I suspect most of them are too young to lucidly remember what it is like to follow a team that doesn’t win 12 games a year on average for a 15-year stretch

      • Robert Anasi

        You’re spot on. Sure this iteration of the Pats is flawed but in this game, Belichick was obviously working on different things with different defensive players and schemes against a not particularly dangerous 49ers team (Hightower only playing 2/3rds of snaps, for example). I wouldn’t say he treated it like a preseason game but he took bigger risks than normal as he continues to look for ways to replace Collins’ production. I grew up with the 70s and 80s Pats so I know how lucky the fans are, even if they don’t. Love your Vonnegut handle!

  • Jacob M. Lundeen

    While I agree with the grade for Kap based on his second half performance, the write reads like Mr. Kosko only watched the second half. Kap was 8/9 for 120ish yards and a TD and had led two scoring drives in the first half. He wasn’t Brady by any means, but he had performed better in the first half then the write up suggests.

  • zinn21 zinn21

    Can somebody explain to me how Kap was 5-10 when pressured and 8-13 when blitzed??

    • Jim John

      Because a defense can pressure the QB without blitzing…

      • zinn21 zinn21

        Yeah but if all blitzes are pressures there should be a minimum of 13 pressures, right?

  • adonis f

    The author of this article is a bloody idiot. How can you give such a rating on a quarterback in one of the rainiest games this season? do you not take anything into consideration? The fact that any quarterback got a grip and threw a ball during the game, deserves a better rating than what you gave !
    you my friend are a fool and do not deserve to have a job