When a team starts the game with a trick play, that tells you they’re not confident. The Browns moved the ball on that play, but they were forced to punt on their opening drive. On the very next play, Matt Breida took off for an 83-yard touchdown run. Untouched. Best of all, he waved.
The defense made a statement on the next play. Nick Bosa beats his man and forced Baker Mayfield to throw his intended target, and his pass landed right in the hands of Richard Sherman. The Niners weren’t able to muster any points off the turnover after an errant throw from Jimmy Garoppolo, and a drop by Deebo Samuel, but they did force a punt on the ensuing drive.
I thought Richie James not fielding the punt may come back to haunt the offense, but a nine-play, 59-yard touchdown drive erased any doubt. That was capped off by a five-yard pass to Breida for a score.
The defense did what they do best, turn the Browns over. DeForest Buckner forced a fumble, and Bosa recovered the fumble. For the second time, the offense couldn’t punch the ball in the end zone. Robbie Gould missed his third field goal of the season, and after the first quarter, the 49ers were up 14-0. It felt like 40-0.
The Browns attached Sherman a couple of times on the ensuing drive but had to settle for a field goal. That made it 14-3. Sherman was looking to the sideline and made it seem like there was miscommunication in coverage. It was nice to see Emmanuel Moseley make a play. He broke up a pass on the drive.
The Browns had a chance to make it 14-10, but an errant throw by Mayfield and bad drop by Antonio Callaway popped the ball in the air to K’Waun Williams for a back-breaking interception. Williams returned it out to midfield, and the 49ers scored after a 19-yard touchdown by Tevin Coleman. That made it 21-3.
Gould missed another field goal before the half. That one was from 52-yards out.
The 49ers came out of the half with a 9-play, 90-yard drive that was capped off by a 22-yard touchdown pass. That made it 28-3. For all the worry about Emmanuel Moseley and Justin Skule, we never mentioned Skule, which is good, and Moseley didn’t allow a reception through three quarters.
It can never be a clean game with this team, as Kyle Juszczyk was carted off to the locker room from the medical tent. We’ll wait to hear the severity of his injury, but it’s never a good sign when you bring the cart out. Juice played a great game and sprung a couple of longer runs. If he’s out for an extended period, that’s a blow for the 49ers. Ross Dwelley filled in as the “H-Back” after Juszczyk was injured. Also, what the heck was up with the kicking game? Gould missed all three of his attempts, though one was blocked. I guess you want to get all of your misses out of the way in one game, right?
It was a dominant outing by the Niners. Through three quarters, the Browns were averaging 4.2 yards per play. They were 1-9 on third down. Aside from a few plays, Cleveland couldn’t move the ball. Bosa rightfully deserves the credit after tonight’s performance. Bosa was fantastic. It wasn’t just him, though. Everyone up front made plays, as did the linebackers. Let’s give some love to Jimmie Ward, who made a couple of excellent open-field tackles to prevent Nick Chubb from scoring in the second quarter. That was the drive that ended in a red zone interception.
It was a statement game for the 49ers on national TV. That’s what they needed.