Patriots vs. 49ers thumbs up, thumbs down: Cam Newton benched in ugly defeat


The Patriots have now lost two games in a row and dropped to 2-4 on the season following Sunday evening’s ugly 33-6 loss to Jimmy Garoppolo’s 49ers at Gillette Stadium.

New England turned the ball over four times on offense, while the defense was pushed around and passed over by the San Francisco offense.

It was New England’s second-straight ugly loss in as many weeks, leaving the team reeling heading into the month of November.

Before turning the page to next weekend’s must-win game against the AFC East-leading Bills (5-2) in Buffalo, here are some of the few personnel highs and many lows from the loss to the 49ers.

Thumbs up

Damien Harris – Not a lot went right for the Patriots offense. But Harris ran the ball hard early and found some room to pick up some relatively cheap yards in a blowout loss late. Harris is still finding his footing in the Patriots backfield, but he’s proven he will finish runs and maximize his blocking. Harris finished with 10 carries for 58 yards against the 49ers, along with one catch for 12 yards.

Jakobi Meyers – The second-year receiver saw increased playing time against San Francisco, especially after N’Keal Harry left with a knee injury. Meyers recorded his second catch of the season in the first half and then went on to have his best game since last October, finishing with four catches for 60 yards, with a long of 21.

Nick Folk – He made his 40-yard field goal in the second quarter. He made his 41-yard field goal in the third quarter.

Thumbs down

Devin Asiasi – The third-round rookie tight end continues to be a disappointment for a Patriots team with little production or talent at the position. After failing to record even a target never mind a catch in the first five games of the year, Asiasi was a healthy scratch against the 49ers as fellow rookie Dalton Keene took his spot on the game day roster. Keene finished with one catch for 8 yards.

Run defense – New England’s run defense has been suspect all season and was a weakness once again against the 49ers. Even with San Francisco running back Raheem Mostert hurt, fill-in former undrafted back Jeffrey Wilson picked up the slack by running 112 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns before leaving to injury, leading a 49ers team that churned out nearly 200 yards on the ground.

Big plays – Defense is supposed to be a strength for the Patriots, especially the back end. That didn’t show up against the 49ers, either in tackling downfield against the run or in the air. The 49ers had five guys with receptions of 15 yards or longer, led by rookie Brandon Aiyuk’s six catches for 115 yards. The 49ers had three runners with runs of 10 yards or more, many long runs included poor tackling in the secondary and defensive backs failing to set the edge. This was total system failure for the defense, up front and the back end. They were bullied and embarrassed by the 49ers.

Cam Newton – Coming off his poor performance against Denver, one that Newton himself admitted simply wasn’t good, the quarterback turned the ball over early against San Francisco. Newton made a bad decision, throwing into double-coverage for a Fred Warner interception in the second quarter. It was Newton’s fifth interception in five games played, but not his last of the day. Newton was picked off on a deep ball late in the second quarter as well. He then threw well behind Julian Edelman in the third quarter, a deflection that led to his third interception of the day. Newton was then pulled in favor of backup Jarrett Stidham on New England’s first drive of the fourth quarter, finishing completing 9-of-15 passes with no touchdowns and the three interceptions for a 39.7 passer rating.

Julian Edelman – Whether it’s his bad knee or simply his age, Edelman is laboring at this point in the year. The slot receiver was not targeted until the second half against San Francisco. He did not catch a pass until inside the final two minutes, one of his mere three targets on the day deflecting off his hands for an interception. A year ago Edelman gutted through injuries for one of his best seasons, that’s simply not happing this year.