FOXBOROUGH — On Thursday afternoon, Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman tweeted out a video of a little boy, No. 21, playing football on a patchy grass field.
Standing at least a foot shorter than the adult officials, the little guy scrambles around, catches a pass, and even nabs an interception. At the end of the video there’s a still photo, with a border made to look like a baseball card, of Edelman kneeling in his Redwood City High School uniform.
“Back to the ol’ Bay Area this weekend,” Edelman tweeted.
Like Tom Brady, Edelman grew up a short drive down Route 101 from Candlestick Park, the former home of the 49ers. Edelman was born in 1986, too late to remember “The Catch,” but he loved Deion Sanders, who wore No. 21 when the 49ers won the Super Bowl after the 1994 season.
“It’s going to be pretty exciting,” Edelman said Wednesday of the Patriots’ game Sunday against the host 49ers. “The new place is no Candlestick but it’ll be pretty fun to go back and get to play in front of some friends and family and you know, over in Santa Clara. I’ve been going to the Great America my whole life, so it’ll be cool.”
California’s Great America is an amusement park in Santa Clara, at the base of the San Francisco Bay. Levi’s Stadium, the new home of the 49ers, was built beside it in 2012.
Also like Brady, Edelman said he’s been busy this week arranging tickets for friends and family members to see the game, which he’s happy to do.
“There’s a good amount,” Edelman said. “But it’s going to be exciting to get to go back and see all my friends and family, so it’ll be good.”
Like any good California boy, Edelman knows Hollywood. He joked after watching Brady’s new Footlocker commercial, where an enraged Brady rants about how greatness leads to unsubstantiated rumors and questioning, poking fun at the Deflategate saga.
“We need a little more [Al] Pacino in it,” Edelman said. “I’m going to have to tell him that.”
Edelman was a staunch defender of Brady during Deflategate and during Brady’s suspension, which he likened to a buddy being sent to jail. Overall, he was also complimentary of Brady’s acting chops, and didn’t think it would have been difficult for the quarterback to get into character.
“He’s pretty artistic when it comes to that stuff so maybe he was method acting,” Edelman said.
Edelman did some acting himself, feigning difficulty pronouncing the name of San Mateo, the second town over from Redwood City and the place where Brady grew up and Edelman went to Junior College.
“I think yeah, I think he’s from this place called San Matty-Matai-Matai-o,” he said.
“Nah, but I’m sure it’ll be fun for him to get to go home and play the San Francisco 49ers, a team that I grew up loving,” Edelman continued. “It’s going to be exciting. Don’t let their record fool you because it’s an unfamiliar team that we don’t play often, that we don’t really know.”
The 49ers could be better than their 1-8 record (which includes losses in their last eight games) and still not present much of a challenge to the Patriots. That would change quickly, however, if the Patriots continue to hurt themselves with fumbles.
The Patriots are lucky to have lost only seven fumbles this season, considering they lead the league with 18. Edelman was one of the culprits Sunday, when Seattle safety Kam Chancellor stripped the ball from him in the fourth quarter. Richard Sherman recovered and the Seahawks turned the possession into a Doug Baldwin touchdown.
“It’s a crucial part of the game and when you carry the ball you’re carrying the fortune of the whole team, so we’ve each got to do more to get better at it,” said Edelman, who has fumbled three times this season and lost two.
Edelman otherwise played well against Seattle, with 99 yards and seven catches on nine targets. He’s also notoriously tough, which Bill Belichick spoke about on a conference call with San Francisco reporters Wednesday.
“Just watch the Kent State-Ohio State game. That’s the only game you need to see right there,” Belichick said. “He’s playing quarterback against Ohio State and carried the ball a lot, was obviously under some pressure in the passing game in that game. Yeah, I think if you just watch that game — that game alone — I don’t think there could possibly be any question about his toughness.”
It’s an odd game to be impressed by, given that Edelman had 40 passing yards, minus-7 rushing yards, and a 6.8 passer rating in a 48-3 loss.
Edelman said Thursday that Belichick was probably confused, and was actually remembering tape of him playing against Iowa State in 2007, leading Kent State to a 23-14 win. Edelman threw for 161 yards and a touchdown and added 75 yards and another score on the ground.
And Belichick was mostly referring to Edelman’s physical toughness (even on the play where he fumbled against the Seahawks, Edelman was fighting for extra yards after making a catch over the middle of the field), but the concept applies mentally, too. Part of being tough is being able to move on after bad plays, such as fumbles, while still learning from them.
“It’s constant reminders to yourself and everything,” Edelman said. “That’s not acceptable so, but we’re moving on and thinking about San Francisco, so we’re not going to talk about ball security anymore.”