Kyle’s update, 3:42 p.m. PT: According to Josina Anderson, the Browns are ruling out QB Deshaun Watson. The line has gone from the 49ers being favored by 5 points to 10 points, which is another indication Watson won’t play.
The 49ers head into Week 6 about as healthy as any team in the NFL. The only player to miss practice Wednesday was running back Elijah Mitchell with a knee injury. Left guard Aaron Banks was limited with a shoulder injury, but it doesn’t appear serious enough to keep him out of Sunday’s contest.
The Cleveland Browns are not as fortunate. Despite coming off a bye week, guard Joel Bitonio missed Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury, Myles Garrett with a foot injury, tight end David Njoku has a hand/face injury, and starting quarterback Deshaun Watson remains sidelined with a right shoulder injury.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Browns are a bit of a mess. Rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson started in Week 4. He told Cleveland’s media that he “had no idea he was going to start,” adding that he got the official word his first career start would take place 90 minutes before kick off.
You’re not required to provide an injury report until Wednesday. Yet, the Browns went out of their way to say that Watson is still banged up on Tuesday. Why? Watson’s specific injury is a rotator cuff contusion. The injury is hindering Watson’s ability to throw a football to his full capacity, which is why he’s still sitting out nearly two weeks later.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski named P.J. Walker, not Thompson-Robinson, as the backup for Sunday’s game. The Niners opened up as 5-point favorites, and that number is now up to seven. Which is an indication that Watson either isn’t playing. Or if he does, he’ll be a shell of himself.
To say the 49ers would have “dodged a bullet” by not having to play Watson wouldn’t be accurate. Solely for the fact that Watson hasn’t been effective. Cleveland is 26th in offensive DVOA. When you look at how they’re performing on a per-drive basis, the Browns are 28th in yards, 26th in points, and 28th in success rate.
Kyle Shanahan acknowledged how impressive the Browns have been on the other side of the ball, but Cleveland’s offense, no matter who is under center, is the unit that leaves plenty to be desired, and the reason oddsmakers expect the Niners to win by a touchdown.