Patriots-49ers Snap Count Reaction: Strange Personnel Decisions In Loss

James White and Chase Winovich played reduced roles


October 26, 2020

Some of the Patriots’ perceived best players saw reduced roles Sunday in New England’s 33-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Gillette Stadium.

Let’s go through the Patriots’ offensive and defensive snap counts and see what stands out.

RG Shaq Mason: 52, 100%
LT Isaiah Wynn: 52, 100%
RT/RG Mike Onwenu: 52, 100%
C David Andrews: 52, 100%
WR Damiere Byrd: 48, 92%
WR Jakobi Meyers: 41, 79%
QB Cam Newton: 32, 62%
WR Julian Edelman: 31, 60%
RB Rex Burkhead: 25, 48%
LG Joe Thuney: 25, 48%
TE Dalton Keene: 24, 46%
TE Ryan Izzo: 23, 44%
FB Jakob Johnson: 21, 40%
RB Damien Harris: 21, 40%
QB Jarrett Stidham: 20, 38%
LG Hjalte Froholdt: 16, 31%
RT Justin Herron: 12, 23%
WR N’Keal Harry: 11, 21%
RB James White: 10, 19%
WR Gunner Olszewski: 4, 8%

— Quarterback Brian Hoyer, running back J.J. Taylor and tight end Devin Asiasi were inactive and reserve offensive tackle Korey Cunningham didn’t play.

— Meyers took over once Harry left the game with a head injury and was the Patriots’ most productive receiver.

— Newton was benched for Stidham at the start of the fourth quarter.

— Edelman continues to play a relatively low percentage of snaps. He caught one 13-yard pass on three targets. One of Newton’s three interceptions was on a target to Edelman. The other two picks came on throws to Meyers.

— White missed practice Wednesday and Thursday for non-injury related reasons and only played 10 snaps Sunday. It seems that most of White’s usual reps went to Burkhead, who caught three passes on four targets for 35 yards and had four carries for 12 yards. White had just one 3-yard catch in the game. It’s understandable that White saw his role decreased after missing practice time, but he was missed on the field.

— Thuney left the game early with an ankle injury and didn’t return. That moved Onwenu from right tackle to right guard while Herron came in to play right tackle. When Herron suffered an injury, Froholdt came off the bench to play left guard.

— Keene, in his NFL debut, played more snaps than Izzo, the Patriots’ starting tight end. The third-round pick caught an 8-yard pass. Asiasi, who played five games before he was a healthy scratch Sunday, has yet to be targeted.

FS Devin McCourty: 66, 100%
CB Stephon Gilmore: 66, 100%
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: 56, 85%
S/LB Adrian Phillips: 55, 83%
LB Anfernee Jennings: 53, 80%
OLB John Simon: 49, 74%
CB Jason McCourty: 44, 67%
DT Byron Cowart: 42, 64%
DT Lawrence Guy: 41, 62%
DB Jonathan Jones: 38, 58%
CB JC Jackson: 33, 50%
DE Deatrich Wise: 30, 45%
OLB Shilique Calhoun: 28, 42%
SS Terrence Brooks: 27, 41%
DE Tashawn Bower: 27, 41%
DT Nick Thurman: 23, 35%
OLB Chase Winovich: 13, 20%
DT Adam Butler: 13, 20%
LB Brandon Copeland: 11, 17%
DE Derek Rivers: 10, 15%

— Safety Kyle Dugger (ankle), cornerback Myles Bryant and defensive tackle Carl Davis (concussion) were inactive. Defensive back Joejuan Williams, linebacker Cassh Maluia and cornerback Justin Bethel only played special teams.

— Jennings, a 2020 third-round pick, played a massive role as the Patriots went heavy to combat the 49ers’ strong rushing attack. Jennings, who’s 6-foot-3, 259 pounds, split his snaps between inside and outside linebacker. He has the size the Patriots needed Sunday, but he might not be ready for a starting role just yet.

— Cowart’s and Guy’s snap counts also reflect the Patriots’ desire to go big defensively. New England averaged 1.8 defensive tackles per snap which is way above its season average of 1.5 defensive tackles per snap.

— Jones and Jackson saw their snaps lessened as the Patriots put more defensive tackles and linebackers on the field. Both players have been among New England’s best defenders this season. Jackson wasn’t targeted and had an interception in just 33 snaps.

— Bower, a practice squad player making his Patriots debut, playing more snaps than Winovich is eye-opening. Winovich, who was thought to be one of New England’s best defenders just three weeks ago, hadn’t played fewer than 54 percent of snaps through the first four weeks of the season. He’s played 34.4 and 20 percent of snaps the last two games.

— Rivers was dealing with a back injury coming into the game.

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