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49ers vs. Browns: Who will the 49ers miss more on Monday, Witherspoon or Staley?

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San Francisco 49ers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

On Monday Night Football, the San Francisco 49ers will play their first game of the season without Ahkello Witherspoon, who couldn’t have started the season any better. It’ll be the team’s second game without star left tackle, Joe Staley, as well. The bye week and a couple of extra practices to start this week should help with preparation. That doesn’t mean Justin Skule and Emmanuel Moseley will be ready for everything the Cleveland Browns throw at them.

If I’m the Browns, it’s simple. I isolate my best player against your “new guy” early and often to test them. Let’s say the ball is on the left hash, and the 49ers offense is on the field. If I’m Cleveland’s defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, I do one of two things. I’m ever overloading a side and making Skule overthink. Then I’m coming back and putting three rushers on the right side of the line of scrimmage, and only leaving Myles Garrett to Skule’s side. That way, you can’t give him any help. The Browns like to come after you. They blitzed Lamar Jackson on 35% of his drop backs last week. For reference, Robert Saleh blitzes about 10% of the time.

On the other side of the ball, expect the Browns to test Moseley deep, whether it’s isolation routes, or they try and get him to “take the cheese” on different route combinations. Remember this play by Witherspoon?

Such an impressive play from a recognition standpoint. When I say “take the cheese,” the combinations above are what I’m referring to. Get you to bite on one route, and try to get behind you on another. Moseley will have to be disciplined because Cleveland likes to stretch the field.

Baker Mayfield has attempted a pass 20 yards or more 16 times this season. For reference, Jimmy Garoppolo has attempted the same type of pass nine times this season, which ranks 29th, per PFF. This should be the first game Tarvarius Moore is tested in the passing game as well.

With that said, who do you think the 49ers will miss more on Monday Night Football? Will Kyle Shanahan scheme around Skule? Can the 49ers pass-rush take the pressure off Moseley?


Who will the 49ers miss more

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