The 49ers will have a couple of things working against them Sunday when they take the field at Gillette Stadium against the New England Patriots, with Bill Belichick's unquestioned greatness being chief among them.
Jimmy Garoppolo will return to Foxboro for the first time since the Patriots sent him to the 49ers for a second-round pick in 2017. The 49ers looked to have figured something out in their season-saving Week 6 win vs. the Los Angeles Rams and arrive in New England looking to keep the good momentum rolling against a Patriots team that was sloppy in an 18-12 loss to the Denver Broncos after a two-week COVID hiatus.
The bad news for the 49ers is that Belichick just doesn't lose to his former quarterbacks. In his career, Belichick is 7-1 when facing quarterbacks that he either drafted or started at one point in time. Garoppolo, of course, fits into both of those categories.
That stat, while impressive, didn't faze 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan. In fact, he rather expected it.
"That stat is a little daunting. But when you are the best coach of all time, and you have the best QB of all time, you can give me any stat, any time, AFC East, whatever, it's gonna be pretty good," Shanahan said on KNBR on Friday.
The Patriots enter Week 7 at 2-3 and under .500 in October for the first time since 2002. That's also to be expected given the greatness of Belichick and Tom Brady over the past two decades.
Shanahan, Garoppolo and the 49ers will face a desperate Patriots team Sunday. One that was embarrassed by its play against the Broncos and knows a win can throw them right back into the AFC East hunt after the Buffalo Bills dropped two in a row to fall to 4-2.
A win at Gillette Stadium would further steady the 49ers after their rocky start to the season, putting them at 4-3 ahead of their much-anticipated Week 8 bout with the Seattle Seahawks,
Belichick knows Garoppolo's strengths and weaknesses. He surely watched the coaching clinic Shanahan put on against the Rams and will look to take away the short passes, end arounds and pop passes to Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle, knowing forcing Garoppolo to throw the ball down the field gives the Patriots the best chance to slow down the 49ers.
It will be a chess match Sunday afternoon in New England. One that history says doesn't favor Garoppolo and Shanahan.