Patriots-49ers Takeaways: Cornerbacks Bounce Back With Lockdown Coverage

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One must consider the opponent, but the Patriots’ secondary rebounded in New England’s 30-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

The Patriots’ top three cornerbacks allowed just three receptions on 15 targets for 42 yards, which came just one week after they allowed 15 catches on 24 targets for 204 yards with two touchdowns and a pass interference penalty to the Seattle Seahawks.

Granted, this was against quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the struggling 49ers offense rather than Russell Wilson, one of the best QBs in the NFL. It’s a start, however, and it’s a way to rebuild some confidence in what was an in-flux secondary.

Here are this week’s coverage, pass rush, offensive line and accuracy stats.

PASS COVERAGE
Elandon Roberts: 3-3, 44 yards, TD
Devin McCourty: 2-2, 42 yards, TD
Patrick Chung: 4-6, 36 yards
Malcolm Butler: 2-5, 35 yards
Dont’a Hightower: 2-2, 30 yards
Kyle Van Noy: 1-1, 9 yards
Eric Rowe: 1-5, 7 yards
Logan Ryan: 0-5, two PBUs, holding penalty

— Butler and Rowe were the top cornerbacks, playing outside, while Ryan played the slot, covering top 49ers receiver Jeremy Kerley. Ryan had his strongest game of the season despite being called for a holding penalty. It was a nice bounce-back game for Ryan, who allowed over 100 yards to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 11. He’s at his best when he can key in on one receiver and play aggressively.

— Rowe and Butler played well, too. The Patriots should stick with this formula in upcoming weeks against the New York Jets and Los Angeles Rams, because it worked.

— Roberts is an issue in coverage, however. He’s allowed 13 catches on 14 targets for 150 yards with a touchdown on the season. Roberts looks like a good athlete in short spaces but struggles to move laterally and downfield.

— Not the strongest outing for the Patriots’ safeties in coverage.

PASS RUSH
Chris Long: seven hurries (seven pressures)
Kyle Van Noy: sack, five hurries (six pressures)
Dont’a Hightower: sack, two hurries (three pressures)
Alan Branch: QB hit, hurry (two pressures)
Trey Flowers: QB hit, hurry (two pressures)
Shea McClellin: two hurries (two pressures)
Vincent Valentine: two hurries (two pressures)
Malcolm Butler: sack (one pressure)
Rob Ninkovich: sack (one pressure)
Patrick Chung: sack (one pressure)

— Van Noy had quite a debut for the Patriots with six pressures in just 29 snaps. Maybe the Lions misused him as a coverage linebacker?

— Long continues to bring heat but doesn’t finish. Over 86 percent of his pressures have been hurries this season, and he has just one sack.

— The Patriots recorded a season-high five sacks against the 49ers. Butler and Ninkovich’s sacks came near the line of scrimmage as Kaepernick tried to scramble.

PASS PROTECTION
Shaq Mason: sack, three hurries (four pressures)
David Andrews: QB hit, three hurries (four pressures)
Joe Thuney: three hurries (three pressures)
Marcus Cannon: QB hit, hurry (two pressures)
Cameron Fleming: QB hit, hurry (two pressures)
Nate Solder: two hurries (two pressures)
Martellus Bennett: hurry (one pressure)
James Develin: hurry (one pressure)

— The Patriots’ pass protection was better than it originally looked. Brady, at times, sensed pressure that wasn’t there.

— It was a solid outing for the Patriots’ offensive tackles as most pressure came from up the middle.

— Brady was 7 of 12 for 136 yards with two touchdowns while under pressure.

PASS ACCURACY
1. Tipped at the line to Dion Lewis
2. Throwaway, broken play, intentional grounding
3. Overthrow deep to Julian Edelman
4. Thrown in front of Edelman
5. Spike
6. Overthrow deep to Edelman
7. Pass to Edelman broken up
8. Pass to Edelman broken up
9. Overthrow deep to Edelman
10. Overthrow deep to Danny Amendola
11. Thrown wide to Lewis
12. Overthrown deep to Edelman
13. Edelman couldn’t stay in bounds on deep pass to sideline
14. Overthrown to Martellus Bennett
15. Malcolm Mitchell couldn’t stay in bounds on pass to sideline
16. Overthrown deep to Edelman

— Of Brady’s 16 incompletions, 11 were inaccurate or risky throws.

— Patriots receivers didn’t record any drops on counted plays.

— Seven of Brady’s 16 incompletions were on deep passes.

— Brady was just 2 of 7 on deep passes. Both completions went to Mitchell.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

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