The 49ers came into the game off a bye week and sporting an unblemished record of 3-0. Questions about the validity of this record, hung in the air as the teams marched onto the field. The Dolphins and Cardinals, with barely a win between them, counting towards two-thirds of that perfect start. On the other hand, the Browns have been a team on the ascent and only last week beat their divisional rivals, who also had an impressive record against poor opposition. Last week was somewhat of a coming out party for the Browns, putting up a good score against a highly rated team. Even with the 49ers favored by 3.5 points for the game, there was a certain air of optimism amongst Browns fans. The 49ers much vaunted D line were projected to be their most likely group to cause problems, containing Bosa the younger, Solomon Thomas, Dee Ford, and Deforest Buckner. Add to this a solid run game build on a three-headed monster of Coleman, Breida and Mostert. The Browns arrived with their own high caliber D line, a good WR core and a much improved run game themselves. So, how did it all unfold?
Story of the Game
The 49ers exploded out of the gates with an 83 yard run from Breida on their first play, great blocking from George Kittle and Kyle Juszczyk. An interception by Richard Sherman from an underpressureBaker quickly followed. The 49ers completed a good drive down the field, finished by a short throw from Garappolo to Breida, leaving the game at 14-0 to the 49ers, and the browns looking very shabby on both sides of the ball. The nightmare 1st quarter continued for Baker, when the 49ers front four made their presence felt with a sack fumble on Mayfield inside Brown’s territory. Luckily, for the Browns, this possession ended with a missed Robbie Gould field goal attempt. The 49ers continued to frustrate the Browns offense on the next possession, forcing a 30-yard field goal attempt from Siebert, which he converted to keep his perfect completion rate intact. The redzone issues persisted with the Browns next trip into 49ers territory, with the ball thrown low and behind, Calloway’s attempt to catch was bobbled and recovered by the 49ers defense, who promptly returned it passed half way. The 49ers brought this possession to the house to complete a dire first half for the Browns.
The 49ers opened the second with another scoring drive, leaving the scoreline at an insurmountable looking 28-3, a quick response was required by the Browns offense to have any hope of keeping the game a competitive affair. Alas, it never came, more turnovers and a stunted offense prevailed. Bringing Gilbert in with five minutes to go, was more about keeping Mayfield safe than looking for Gilbert to rescue anything from the game. The 49ers strangled the game to a close, the 31-3 score line, unfortunately, a fair reflection of the game as a whole.
How the Game was won
Kyle Shanahan produced a first-half master class on how to run the ball and minimize your weaknesses. Jimmy Garappolo, by many, was highlighted as the weak link to exploit, but he barely had an influence on the game in the first half. The offensive grinding through the run game completely overwhelmed the Browns defense, giving up chunk play after chunk play to Breida and Coleman. George Kittle and Kyle Juszczyk were unstoppable in short to intermediate plays, converting 3rd downs and keeping all the drives going.
The Browns will need to perform drastically better on both sides of the ball to beat the Seahawks on Sunday.