So, I was checking out the Take 2 version of Scouts Inc.'s reporton 49ers-Browns in Week 17 and came across some interesting tidbits. As this is Week 17 and the Browns are a potential playoff team, one of the prominent questions dealt with resting injured starters:
There's one reason and one reason only I want Brady Quinn see his first playing time against our 49ers. I want to see the pretty boy get flattened once by Bryant Young in his last game as a 49er and once by Patrick Willis. Bookend sacks by the retiring legend and the legend in the making. It seems fair enough to ask for that, wouldn't you say?
Cleveland RB Jamal Lewis vs. San Francisco ILB Patrick Willis
Lewis is having an outstanding season and the prototypical back for the type of game the Cleveland offense plays. Lewis is able to slow the tempo of any game by mauling opponents and breaking arm tackles to gain yards. Lewis can't outrun many defenders anymore, but he can still burst for 20- and 30-yards at a time with his short steps and powerful style. Lewis will face Willis, a rookie who is going to the Pro Bowl. Willis has more than enough athletic ability to be a 3-4 inside linebacker and is capable of making plays from sideline to sideline. He is a stocky and great looking player who takes running backs head-on in his own physical style. The advantage in this matchup goes to Lewis, who is familiar with the playing surface in Cleveland, which has changed some due to the weather conditions. Along with that, Lewis will get help from the Cleveland offensive guards, Ryan Tucker and Eric Steinbach, when they are climbing to the next level to get a hat on Willis.
A key aspect of the 3-4 is the nose tackle opening up holes for the inside linebackers to burst through and make plays. The nose tackle's role in the 3-4 is somewhat understated and because of the duties involved it's easy to overlook him. Nonetheless I think it's safe to say that Aubrayo Franklin has not exactly made the impact some of us were hoping. I'd love to hear more insight on Franklin's performance. It's not all that simple to assess his performance so I could be off base here. Nonetheless, Patrick Willis will certainly have his hands full with Jamal Lewis.
We know the Browns will be huddled around the tv watching the Titans-Colts matchup. As the Titans are so prominently featured in the Browns immediate future, I would expect some of the veterans to get a rest in hopes of needing it for the playoffs. Of course, they're also looking to get 10 wins, which is a nice little benchmark for a franchise on the rise again.
The 49ers on the other hand?
If healthy enough to play -- [Shaun Hill has] been battling back spasms -- Hill should be able to manage the game and get the ball into the hands of the San Francisco playmaker in TE Vernon Davis and RB Frank Gore. If the Browns are still thinking about their Week 16 loss to Cincinnati that may ultimately cost them a playoff spot and aren't concentrating on the 49ers, San Francisco could pull off the upset.
I'm really hoping Shaun Hill is not out of commission on Sunday. He's done enough to get a legitimate shot at competing for the 2008 starting QB position, but it'd be nice for him to finish off the season with a flourish. Updates certainly to come on Hill's condition.