The main storyline going into the 49ers' matchup with the New England Patriots on Sunday was all about quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo returning to Gillette Stadium and facing his former team. In reality, Week 7 turned into Kyle Shanahan putting on a coaching clinic against Bill Belichick and the Patriots being blown out, 33-6.
Shanahan once again set up his QB for success with short passes. Garoppolo started the game off 7-for-7 before being intercepted. He finished the day completing 20 of his 25 pass attempts for 277 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns.
As the 49ers ran all over the Patriots, Garoppolo nearly was perfect on play-action passes in the win. He used play action on 16 of his 26 dropbacks, according to Next Gen Stats. That's the second-highest rate in a game over the last five seasons, and Garoppolo also completed 14 of his 15 pass attempts on play action.
But 92 percent of his pass yards on play action came after the catch.
Led by Jeff Wilson Jr.'s 112 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground, the 49ers rushed for 197 yards. Shanahan became the master of disguise, mixing run plays with play action. With the 49ers slashing the Patriots' defense on the ground, 49ers receivers were wide open -- having five-plus yards of separation -- on 10 of Garoppolo's pass attempts off play action.
Garoppolo isn't a picture-perfect quarterback, and Shanahan knows that. Instead of making his quarterback step outside of his skill set, the coach knows exactly how to feed off his strong run game and get the ball into the hands of playmakers like Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk.
After their dominant win over the Patriots, the 49ers now are very much alive in the playoff hunt as they continue their tough schedule. Shanahan will continue looking to set his QB up for success, and Garoppolo simply will stay focused on getting wins for San Francisco.