Cleveland Browns: Instant reactions to Week 5 Disaster by the Bay

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Antonio Callaway #11 of the Cleveland Browns drops a pass on the goal line leading to an interception by K'Waun Williams #24 of the San Francisco 49ers in the second quarter at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Antonio Callaway #11 of the Cleveland Browns drops a pass on the goal line leading to an interception by K'Waun Williams #24 of the San Francisco 49ers in the second quarter at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns squared off against the undefeated San Francisco 49ers in a Monday Night Football game to bring the curtain down on week five in the NFL. Would they be able to build momentum with back-to-back wins or would the 49ers stay undefeated?

The Cleveland Browns played their most complete game of the season in their week four win over the Baltimore Ravens. The San Francisco 49ers had an early bye week after starting the season with a perfect 3-0 record. This was the backdrop as two of the most compelling teams in the NFL took the field on Monday Night Football.

The Browns started the game with a spark as Odell Beckham took a pitch from Baker Mayfield and fired a pass to Jarvis Landry. But San Francisco delivered the real fireworks with an 83-yard touchdown run by Matt Breida on their first play from scrimmage. Just like that, the Browns were down 7-0. That was followed up with an interception by Richard Sherman as former Ohio State standout Nick Bosa forced Mayfield to make a poor decision.

The 49ers owned the first quarter as head coach Kyle Shanahan used misdirection to take advantage of the Cleveland Browns aggressive defense. With a little over 6:00 left in the first quarter, the 49ers were ahead 14-0 as 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo connected with Breida for a touchdown pass on third-and-goal.

More from Dawg Pound Daily

Baker Mayfield had a dreadful first quarter which would unfortunately not get better. After the interception, Mayfield had the ball stripped on a third-and-3 to squelch the Browns best drive. Sadly, the Browns best offensive play in the first quarter would be a 69-yard punt from Jamie Gillan.

The second quarter started with the Browns taking advantage of a missed 49ers field goal to mount their best drive that was capped with a 30-yard field goal by Austin Seibert. On the ensuing 49ers drive, the defense made some adjustments and forced a 49ers punt when Myles Garrett sacked Garropolo.

With 7:30 left in the first half, the Browns erased the Gillan punt as their best offensive play when they ran a beautiful misdirection play that saw Beckham in the backfield with Nick Chubb. With all of Napa Valley expecting a toss to Beckham, Mayfield gave a quick inside handoff to Chubb who ripped off a 37-yard run. The Browns got into the red zone only to have the drive end when a touchdown pass bounced off the hands of Antonio Callaway and into the hands of K’Waun Williams.

That would lead to a 14-point swing. But that’s understating the effect that the play had for the Cleveland Browns psyche. Working with a short field the 49ers ran Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme to perfection in moving the ball downfield. The drive was capped with a 19-yard touchdown run by Tevin Coleman and the game went to the half with the 49ers up 21-3.

The second half did not start much better for the Browns. The San Francisco 49ers took the opening kickoff and marched right down the field with little resistance. The drive ended when Garropolo connected with tight end George Kittle for a 22-yard touchdown.

A bright spot occurred with under two minutes left in the third quarter when the Browns blocked a field goal that would have extend the 49ers lead even further. But in what was an all too familiar theme, the Browns could do nothing with the drive and punted the ball away.

The fourth quarter saw another booming 63-yard punt from Jamie Gillan and Garrett Gilbert coming on for some mop-up duty.  However, that was about the extent of the Browns offense as the team limped to the finish. The cherry on top was a fumble by Beckham who was in the game as a punt returner.

After trying to do entirely too much with what was essentially a meaningless return, Beckham was stripped and the 49ers got the ball deep inside Browns territory. That resulted in the 49ers getting a field goal that pushed the lead to the final score of 31-3. It was a dominant win that was not as close as the score indicates.

This could, however, be a costly victory for the 49ers who lost fullback Kyle Juszczyk to an apparent knee injury. The 49ers were also unsuccessful on two field-goal attempts and had another kick blocked. Other than that, it was an almost flawless night for a team that looks very formidable.

Instant Reactions

They Were Who We Thought They Were

The 49ers were expected to have a defensive line on par with that of the Browns. That turned out to be very much the case.  Nick Bosa was in the backfield most of the night. But that was not the whole story. The 49ers consistently were able to get pressure on Mayfield with just their four down linemen.

Meanwhile, Kyle Shanahan peppered the Browns defense with his zone-blocking runs as well as misdirection plays that were effective at keeping our defensive one step behind all game. The 49ers rushed for more yards (nearly 300) than the Browns had in total offense. This was a first-place team that is playing without many of the injuries that have derailed Shanahan’s first two seasons.

Baker Mayfield is Learning on the Job

Baker Mayfield will be better. I can’t prove that, but I believe that. Last year, Baker seemed to rise above all his perceived shortcomings (not the ideal height, not the most mobile, always looking for the big play, etc.). So far this year, Baker is getting passes batted down, lacks the elusiveness that is needed to extend plays the way he would like, and is staring down receivers.

Last year, Baker’s play was a reason the Browns were winning. This year, his play is a reason they are not. That is becoming too common and only Baker can fix that.

Is it the Schedule or the Team?

The Browns are playing, it has been said, with the privilege of expectations. The schedule has forced them to grow up fast. In their first seven games, the Browns have played or will be playing teams that have a current combined record of 18-10.

And that includes a Jets team that is 0-4.  In the last nine games, the Browns will play teams with a current combined record of 8-21-1. On the one hand that says the Browns are not playing well against the “elite” of the NFL.

That’s fair. On the other hand, playing the Rams, Ravens, 49ers, Seahawks, and Patriots in successive weeks is a meat grinder of a schedule that few teams have.

Next. 7-round mock after 1st quarter of season. dark

That’s not an excuse. It’s just facts. The Patriots play the Jets, Dolphins, and Bills six times a year. The Browns are enduring a tough schedule. If it doesn’t kill their playoff hopes, it should make them stronger.