The 49ers remain perfect on the season, moving to 4-0 after beating the Cleveland Browns, 31-3, on Monday night.
San Francisco had this latest win intact essentially from the jump. Kyle Shanahan's offense dropped 14 points in the first quarter, while the defense held Baker Mayfield to just one completion. That lopsidedness continued for the remaining three quarters.
Mayfield, who completed just 8 of 22 for 100 yards and two interceptions, and the Browns offense struggled finding any sort of rhythm offensively as they punted twice and turned the ball over twice before even putting their lone three points on the board. Nick Bosa was the main star in slowing down the Cleveland offense as he was constantly breathing down Mayfield's neck and even was ablea bit at the end of the first half. In all, the 2019 No. 2 overall pick finished with four tackles, two sacks and five quarterback hits.
The Niners stayed unbeaten by beating up on the Browns and there's a lot to go over. John Breech, Sean Wagner-McGough and Jared Dubin break down what it means, rank coaches on the hot seat and more on the Pick Six Podcast, listen in the player below and subscribe here for daily NFL goodness.
Offensively, the Niners were able to lean on their rushing attack of Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman. The two were able to run for 211 yards combined to go along with two touchdowns. It was a statement win for the 49ers to prove that they are legit, while the Browns (2-3) now seemingly have to look in the mirror to figure out what kind of football team they are.
Why the 49ers won
The 49ers won because of their work on the ground. They recorded 275 rushing yards and two touchdowns, which is more yards than the Browns had of total offense. Shanahan drew up some unique play calls and the offensive line provided great blocking, but when it came down to it, San Francisco's running backs were just unstoppable. They bounced off contact, found the holes quickly and fought for extra yardage all night long. The 49ers basically started running out the clock with nine minutes left in the third quarter.
We thought the absence of Jerick McKinnon would slow down this rushing attack, but the 49ers clearly still have one of the best backfields in the NFL.
Why the Browns lost
The Browns really didn't seem to do anything right on Monday night. The secondary was bad, the pass-rush inconsistent and the offense couldn't find any kind of momentum all game long. If you had to point to one thing that took Cleveland out of this matchup, it was lack of discipline.
Dropped passes, missed blocking assignments, confusion in zone coverage and penalties. This young team led by a first-year head coach still has a ways to go before they are the Super Bowl contender many claimed they would be this offseason. The Browns committed seven penalties for 55 yards and turned the ball over four times. Cleveland has a talented roster, but they can't be proud of the product they rolled out against the undefeated 49ers on Monday night.
The Browns were facing a 21-3 deficit at halftime, but there was still a full 30 minutes to play. The 49ers got the ball to begin the second half, so Cleveland needed a quick stop to get possession back in order to start chipping away at the lead.
The exact opposite happened.
The 49ers traveled 90 yards down the field on nine plays, with a drive that was capped off by a 22-yard George Kittle touchdown. It was like Garoppolo was throwing against air. The zone Cleveland was playing had so many holes in it that the 49ers' wideouts had options when it came to which gaps they wanted to fill. With San Francisco then up 28-3, it became clear that the Browns wouldn't be winning this one.
Play of the Game
The must-see play in this matchup happened to be the first play for the 49ers' offense. Breida's first touch went for 83 yards and a touchdown.
This play set the tempo for how the game would go, and also got Breida off to a fast start for his huge night. It was basically all over after this play.
Shanahan on what it means to be the only undefeated team along with the New England Patriots: "It means it's still early. If you tell me that at the end of the year when the season is over, you'll see me celebrating." (via Cam Inman)
The 49ers may be off to a hot start, but they seem to understand that it's still early in the season. There's a long ways to go until you're allowed to feel good about yourself. With that being said, three out of the next four opponents they play missed the postseason last year, so the 49ers may just be getting started.
The Browns return to Cleveland, where they will host the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. They got a long week off after taking down the Los Angeles Rams, 30-29, on "Thursday Night Football" last week, and quarterback Russell Wilson had an MVP performance, passing for 268 yards and four touchdowns.
The 49ers coincidentally get the Rams in Los Angeles. They are on a two-game skid and dealing with problems on both sides of the ball.