At 7-2 on the season and coming off their second loss of the season, the New England Patriots head across the country to take on the San Francisco 49ers, who are coming off a heartbreaking last-second loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Each franchise has had their dynasty eras and the all-time record in this series reflects that with the Niners holding an 8-4 advantage.
In their first three meetings, San Francisco won two of the three games, the last of those contests came in 1980. In that matchup, the 49ers upset New England, 21-17, dealing them a crucial late-season blow that would keep them out of the playoffs. The win was an indication of what was to come for San Francisco, with Joe Montana throwing what at the time was a career-high three touchdown passes.
The Niner dynasty that followed saw them win each of the next five matchups, an era that extended into Steve Young’s glory years. However, over the next two decades, it would be the Patriots that would control the series. In their four meetings prior to Sunday, New England has emerged on top in three games.
The lone San Francisco win in that group came in a wild 41-34 Sunday night clash at Gillette Stadium. In that matchup, the 49ers seemingly had things in control, holding a 31-3 lead. That changed when the Patriots scored 28 unanswered points over 18-plus minutes, but San Francisco won by a 41-34 score.
One other game in this series that’s worthy of note is the 1989 contest that was won by the Niners, 37-20. Two late touchdowns won it for San Francisco, but the circumstances surrounding the game make it stand out. On October 17, the Bay Area earthquake temporarily forced San Francisco to play their game just five days later at nearby Stanford Stadium, site of their Super Bowl XIX win.
For Sunday’s game, New England’s thriving offense should still be humming, despite losing 31-24 to Seattle on Sunday. Tom Brady had his worst performance among his five games this season, even though he threw for 316 yards.
Brady should be able to get back to normal against the team that’s allowed the most points in the NFL. The 1-8 49ers have allowed 30 or more points in six of their nine games and are in the midst of an eight-game losing streak. The Patriots are widely seen as the best team in the league, while the 49ers are widely seen as one of the worst two teams in the league.
The San Francisco offense hasn’t been much better, fluctuating between quarterback Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick. The team's three-and-out drives have the Niners with the shortest average drives in the league, which should make for an easy day for the heavily-favored Patriots, who are 11-2 following a loss since 2012.