It was hard to hear former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo as he spoke to reporters at Levi’s Stadium about an hour before Sunday’s game.
For one, two of his famous former players, Ronnie Lott and Jerry Rice, were there to help him celebrate his Hall of Fame induction, and the few 49ers fans in the stadium early were desperately calling their names.
More than that, DeBartolo also spoke as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady came running out of the tunnel for warmups and chants of “Brad-y! Brad-y!” filled the air. The same chorus broke out in the fourth quarter as well, and at times it felt as if the Patriots were playing at home.
“There did seem like there was a lot of Patriots fans out there,” linebacker Ahmad Brooks said after the game. “It was a little disrespectful.”
Perhaps it was a sign of the times for a franchise struggling as badly as the 49ers that the best reasons to show up at games – especially rainy day games – are to cheer the figures of the past or to root for the visitors.
DeBartolo, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, was presented with his Hall of Fame ring during a soggy halftime ceremony during which all but the most hard-core fans fled inside and under cover.
“I was told all these years I brought rain, thunder and lightning to this franchise,” DeBartolo quipped while someone held an umbrella over his head. “And today proves it.”
As he spoke, an umbrella also was held over his bronze Hall of Fame bust several feet away.
Earlier, the longtime owner said that, win or lose, he watches all of the 49ers’ games.
“I feel very badly for what they’re going through, but they’ll come out of it,” he said. The 49ers are on their first nine-game losing streak since 1978, which was DeBartolo’s second year as owner. The following year, he hired Bill Walsh as head coach and the 49ers drafted Joe Montana to play quarterback.
Phil strikes again – With his 33-yard field goal in the first quarter, Phil Dawson became the 10th kicker in NFL history with at least 400 field goals in a career.
Dawson, who has missed just one attempt this season, is the most accurate of that group. He’s made 400 of 472 attempts, just under 85 percent.
Sunday’s was from short distance, but with the rain moving from mist to a downpour, it was anything but routine. New England had missed an extra point on its previous drive.
“It got pretty tough there for a while,” Dawson said. “ … I’ve got to hand it to our field guys – the field held up real well, but obviously the balls were waterlogged and everything was just messy.”
Speaking to his popularity in the 49ers’ locker room, Dawson was congratulated on the sideline by coaches and teammates before the ensuing kickoff.
Et cetera – Cornerback Jimmie Ward left the game with a concussion, and safety Eric Reid left with an arm injury. The 49ers are expected to give an update on Reid’s condition, a possible biceps injury, on Monday. Defensive lineman Quinton Dial left with a knee injury but returned to the game.
▪ Rookie Aaron Burbridge made his first-ever NFL start in place of Torrey Smith, whose streak of 89 consecutive games was snapped due to a shoulder injury. Burbridge, Rod Streater and Jeremy Kerley were held without a catch.
▪ Wide receiver Chris Harper’s 19-yard catch and run in the first quarter was his first reception for the 49ers. Harper spent last season with New England.