How Cam Newton-Patriots agreement impacts 49ers' 2020 Week 7 matchup

How Cam Newton-Patriots agreement impacts 49ers' 2020 Week 7 matchup

It was supposed to be one of the games of the year.

Jimmy Garoppolo's return to Foxboro after being traded by the New England Patriots to the 49ers three years ago is scheduled for Week 7 of the 2020 NFL season, but legendary quarterback Tom Brady's decision to take his talents to Tompa Tampa Bay took much of the juice out of this matchup.

Garoppolo vs. Jarrett Stidham (0 career NFL starts) didn't have nearly the same allure as a potential Brady-Jimmy G showdown.

But the Patriots brought some fire back to this midseason contest, as New England agreed to terms with former NFL MVP quarterback Cam Newton on a one-year contract, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday night.

Newton confirmed the news Sunday night with this post on his Instagram Story.

Newton only played in two games last season as he recovered from a nagging shoulder injury that required surgery in January 2019. The Carolina Panthers granted Newton permission to seek a trade in mid-March, before releasing him just a week later.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The quarterback is one of the league's most unique athletes, standing 6-foot-6 and weighing 245 pounds while being the NFL's greatest rushing threat at the position, that is until Lamar Jackson came around.

His physical style of play has led to a multitude of injuries over the years, and no one knows how he'll look after nearly a full year away from the game. He posted video of himself working out with Cleveland Browns wideout Odell Beckham Jr. a few weeks ago, and looked to be in pretty good shape.

The 49ers had one of the league's best defenses last season, but it did struggle at times with more mobile quarterbacks. Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals hung 51 points on San Francisco in two games, albeit both wins for the Niners. Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens' dynamic offense didn't produce quite the same barrage of points but came away with a victory over the 49ers in Week 13. Jackson threw for just 105 yards but added 101 yards rushing to go along with two total touchdowns.

[RELATED: Jimmy G faced highest blitz rate among NFL QBs, per PFF]

The Patriots infamously traded Garoppolo to San Francisco midseason in 2017, as Brady wasn't ready to give up the throne in Foxboro. Fast forward three years, and New England didn't have anyone they really trusted in line to replace the signal-caller many consider to be the greatest QB of all time. Few believed that Stidham was going to be coach Bill Belichick's long-term replacement for Brady, and that now appears to be confirmed with the signing of Newton.

Belichick is hoping he can recapture the magic that Newton had when he brought home the NFL MVP in 2015, throwing for 3,837 yards and 35 touchdowns and adding 636 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns for a 15-1 Panthers team. As Schefter reported, Newton's age (31) typically is when NFL quarterbacks hit their prime.

All Garoppolo has done since leaving New England is win 79 percent of his starts for the 49ers and lead San Francisco to an appearance in Super Bowl LIV. A two-time champion as Brady's backup, Jimmy G now has the chance to come back and show Belichick, owner Robert Kraft and the rest of the organization just what they gave up on for a second-round draft pick back in 2017.

Garoppolo returning to Foxboro and playing in front of the raucous crowd (if fans end up being allowed into games) at Gillette Stadium will be the main storyline regardless, but if Newton comes back at an elite level and the Patriots are on a roll going into Week 7, this will be one of the marquee matchups of the 2020 season.

Start marking your calendars now.

49ers' Arik Armstead ignores critics of speaking up on social issues

49ers' Arik Armstead ignores critics of speaking up on social issues

Arik Armstead doesn't want to hear it.

The 49ers defensive lineman spoke to Sactown Magazine for its July/August issue, and says that if you're not willing to listen to his dialogue off the field about social issues affecting our country, Armstead doesn't want you tuning in to watch him and his teammates dominate on the field.

“If you don’t want me speaking out against racism and social issues and social injustices, then don’t watch me play on Sundays," Armstead said. "Can’t have a piece of me and not all of me.”

Armstead also joined NBC Sports Bay Area's "Race In America" series a few weeks ago, and spoke about the pain he felt seeing video of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police Custody.

"Like, why do I have to continue -- why do we have to continue to see people that look like us get murdered on social media and on the TV?" Armstead told Logan Murdock and Monte Poole on  "Race In America: A Candid Conversation." " ... I'm on Instagram, and I just got to see another Black person get killed unjustly."

[RACE IN AMERICA: Listen to the latest episode]

The 26-year-old also discussed a time when he was racially profiled by local police near a friend's house in Elk Grove.

“A cop gets behind us, pulls us over,” Armstead recalls. “‘What y’all doing? Where y’all going?’”

[RELATED: Colin Kaepernick, Nate Boyer helped enact real change with discussion]

The officer then made Armstead and his friends prove that they knew the people whose house they were traveling to, by bringing the cop with them to the front door and having the friend explain that he was acquainted with Armstead.

Armstead has made it clear he won't be staying silent or "sticking to sports." For those who don't want to hear Armstead's voice on these issues, don't expect him to care whether you watch him play on Sundays.

See Joe Staley's motivational IG message for 49ers' Kendrick Bourne

See Joe Staley's motivational IG message for 49ers' Kendrick Bourne

Joe Staley long has been a model of consistency for the 49ers, spending the past 12 seasons protecting a myriad of 49ers quarterbacks as San Francisco's starting left tackle.

Staley's younger teammates held so much respect for him, as you could see from the many who spoke publicly in the wake of Staley's retirement back in April.

It appears even in retirement Staley continues to inspire his former teammates, as 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne shared an Instagram direct message from Staley on Sunday morning.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

"Never lose sight of the goal. The ring," Staley wrote to Bourne. "That's all that matters in what we do. I never got it. You. Mr KB!! Go get it!! F-----g GET IT!! Make me proud bro. I love watching your hustle. All love."

Staley was responding to a video Bourne had posted of some of the hardware he's earned over his football career, including one of the game balls from the 49ers' blowout Week 8 win over the Carolina Panthers.

[RELATED: Why 49ers should explore David Njoku trade with Browns after demand]

Bourne and the 49ers came so close to helping Staley capture that elusive championship ring, but quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs rallied from a 10-point deficit to stun San Francisco at Super Bowl LIV.

The 49ers won the offseason in the eyes of some pundits around the league, and appear primed for another deep postseason run. It'll be up to Bourne, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and the rest of the 49ers' talented roster to finish the job if they can get back to the Super Bowl.