Keys to victory No. 2: Limit YAC
The San Francisco 49ers present one of the tougher matchups in the NFL in terms of simply getting their ball carriers to the ground. Their weapons make their living gaining yards after the catch. Having skill players with the ability to make guys miss and run through arm tackles opens up the entire playbook for Kyle Shanahan and Brock Purdy.
Those weapons exist in every skill position room for the 49ers. Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle are very adept at catching a pass short of the sticks and turning it into a huge play for their offense. By getting the ball to those players in space, Shanahan is able to maximize his offense’s efficiency and extend drives with easy concepts.
That being said, there will be opportunities for the Browns defense to get the Niners off the field on third downs if they are able to stay fundamental and make their tackles. Up until Week 4, Cleveland's defense had been one of the top tackling units in the NFL. However, the Ravens were able to cause multiple missed tackles, and as a result, the Browns gave up two long scoring drives.
This is the week to key in on the basics and get back to being a sure tackling defense. If the back seven of Schwartz’ defense can cut ball carriers down on first contact, this game could wind up a lot closer than the experts think.