Patriots likely to be missing Gronkowski against 49ers (The Associated Press)

The big tight end, injured by a smashing hit from Seattle’s Earl Thomas on Sunday night, missed five plays but came back and finished the game, which ended when an attempted fade to him in the end zone was incomplete. While all was quiet on that front, it was apparent neither Gronkowski will be on the field when the 7-2 Patriots visit the 1-8 (with eight straight losses) 49ers. Clearly, Rob Gronkowski’s absence makes the powerful New England offense weaker.