FOXBOROUGH—From one tough task to another, the Patriots move on to dealing with the San Francisco 49ers this week and Tom Brady has put in extra work to be prepared for the league’s second-ranked defense.
As early as Black Friday, Brady was watching film on the 49ers to get ahead.
“After the Thursday night game against the Jets I tried to do a bunch of work on the 49ers,” he said. “Put a couple of days in there. After the game on Monday night, I felt like I had to watch their most recent game and I was caught up. I tried to take advantage of a little extra time, [with a] little extra planning. I probably wouldn’t have done that 10 years ago.”
What Brady saw was physical defense all around, tough in the secondary and disruptive up front. Similar to the Texans, but different schematically. The 49ers feature the league leader in sacks with Aldon Smith (19.5) and have two top-notch safeties in Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson. At one point, Goldson had been courted by the Patriots to come to New England.
“[It’s a] very hard-hitting group,” Brady said of the secondary. “I’d say the whole defense is that way. It’s a very physical defense. Certainly at the safety position, we played Donte Whitner probably a few times and he’s as physical as there is. Dashon Goldson, I’m really impressed by his ability. Watching him, we never played them—I’ve never played against them—but he’s really an impressive player.
“I think the linebackers they have are all good. They sack the quarterback. The guy Aldon Smith is on an incredible pace. What a start to a career. So it’s a lot of challenges. We’re gonna have to play our best game. I know our guys have been preparing hard the last 24 hours. We’re going to have to continue through the rest of the week.”
Two weeks in a row, the performance of the Patriots’ offensive line will be key with players like Aldon Smith and Justin Smith, an All-Pro at defensive end and tackle, anchoring the 49ers defense. Justin Smith is often credited with attracting enough attention to create favorable and one-on-one matchups for teammates.
“Justin Smith is a great player,” Brady said. “He’s got a great motor. He’s big, powerful, takes up two guys. He allows those other guys some one-on-one matchups. He’s in there every play. He plays hard. He plays to the end of the play. He’s a great player. They’ve got a great front. There’s no real weakness on this defense. They do everything well.”
Other Brady comments:
On Donte’ Stallworth being placed on injured reserve after scoring a touchdown on Monday:
“It’s a bummer for Donte’. He was so excited to be back. And he makes a great play. And he gets injured on the play. That was disappointing.
On reports of Deion Branch’s signing, before it was officially announced by the team:
“I haven’t heard anything about Deion. If we have, that’s from you and not from me.”
On comparisons to Joe Montana:
“I don’t think about that much. I don’t think about comparisons much. I really don’t.”Zuri Berry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.