The Patriots and 49ers are among the most successful franchises in NFL history, but the two don't often have the chance to square off head-to-head due to the NFL's scheduling cycle.
They'll meet Sunday night for the first time since 2008, the season in which Tom Brady suffered an ACL tear that cost him all but one quarter of the season-opener. That means Brady will face his hometown team for the first time since 2004, when the Patriots closed the regular season out with a 21-7 win at Gillette Stadium.
Brady has ties to the Bay Area, and the 49ers also have ties to the Patriots and New England area, highlighted below.
Wide receiver Randy Moss. The future Hall of Fame receiver starred for the Patriots for much of the three-plus seasons he spent with the team, including a record-breaking 2007 campaign in which he caught 23 touchdowns. He was traded during the 2010 season to the team he began his career with, the Vikings, who later released him. After sitting out the 2011 season, Moss was lured back to the NFL by San Francisco, where many have spoken glowingly of his influence as a teammate.
Special teams coordinator/assistant head coach Brad Seely. Seely is among the most respected special teams coaches in the NFL, and served in that capacity with the Patriots from 1999-2008. He was part of the coaching staff during each of the Patriots' three Super Bowl victories, and has helped guide one of the best special teams units in the league in San Francisco.
Regional scout Chip Flanagan. A native of Lowell, Mass., and graduate of Bowdoin College in Maine, Flanagan was hired as the Northeast regional scout for the 49ers this year after spending eight seasons with the Redskins. He studied sport management at UMass after college, earning a master's in 2004.