Kyle Shanahan continues to dominate the opening game script. The 49ers, against a defense who hadn’t allowed a point on the opening drive all season, marched five plays for 84 yards for a score.
Another week, another defender committing a personal foul against Christian McCaffrey. A 27-yard turned into a 42-yard one after Greg Newsome’s unnecessary roughness penalty. McCaffrey would take a pass from 13 yards out to give the Niners an early 7-0 lead.
That was the start to a wild opening quarter.
On the ensuing drive, after Cleveland had picked up a pair of first downs, Fred Warner baited PJ Walker into an interception.
The 49ers took over on Cleveland’s 26-yard line. For as good as the opening drive was, the second one left plenty to be desired. A McCaffrey screen lost eight yards. George Kittle had a false start. Then, Jake Moody’s 54-yard attempt missed to the left, and the Niners failed to capitalize. The rain began to fall just before Moody’s kick, but the weather didn’t impact the miss.
The Browns had an opportunity after none other than Marquise Goodwin took an end around for 20 yards. David Njoku scored on the next play, but offensive holding negated the touchdown. After the 49ers had a failed challenge, Dustin Hopkins 47-yard attempt was wide left.
Both teams mirrored the weather: Ugly and sloppy.
The 49ers lost Trent Williams and Deebo Samuel on the following possession. Williams was rolling on the ground after a defender rolled up on his right ankle. Samuel exited to the locker room with an apparent shoulder injury.
Williams was testing his ankle on the sideline against Nick Zakelj to see if he could go. It would appear that Williams feels healthy enough to enter the game. Williams entered the game on the next drive.
Ray-Ray McCloud and Jauan Jennings both split time at wide receiver on the next drive. On 3rd & 13, Brock Purdy threw a deep pass that hit Aiyuk in the hands, but BA inexcusably dropped the ball.
This game was as Friday the 13th as it gets with the penalties, the bad spots, the miscues, and we weren’t out of the first quarter.
After forcing another punt, the 49ers offense found a groove. Purdy found Aiyuk on the drive for 33 yards to put the Niners in Browns territory. After a few impressive carries by McCaffrey, the Browns defense held the offense out of the end zone. This time, Moody’s 25-yard field goal was good, which gave the 49ers a 10-0 lead.
Amari Cooper made Deommodore Lenoir fall on a deep pass down the left sideline. But Oren Burks showed tremendous effort in chasing Cooper down to ensure he didn’t score.
The defense made it to 3rd & 1, but the Browns ran a wrinkle off a QB sneak that caught the 49ers off-guard. It was a brilliant call that left the Niners defense out-flanked as Kareem Hunt went untouched into the end zone from 16 yards out. That made the score 10-7.
The sloppiness continued offensively, despite George Kittle drawing a defensive pass interference. The offense would move the ball, then have a penalty or a negative play. On 2nd & 13, Purdy had McCaffrey wide open on a free play, but overshot him for a would-be touchdown. After another delay of game, Purdy, who was clearly being impacted by the rain, fumbled his screen attempt.
Purdy finished the half 7-for-12 with 72 yards and a touchdown. That was the fewest yards Purdy had thrown for in a half.
Cleveland got away with one at the end of the half. Walker appeared to have fumbled the ball, but the call on the field was incomplete. Walker’s hand was going forward, and there was not enough evidence to overturn the call after review. Instead of a fumble recovery, the 49ers settled for intentional grounding.
Cooper made a spectacular catch out of halftime over Mooney Ward down the right sideline. Walker found Njoku for another first down, and Cleveland was in 49er territory in a blink of an eye. But on 3rd & 7, Walker was forced to run, and while he escaped a sack, gained one yard. Another Hopkins field goal tied the score at ten.
Purdy’s interception streak came to an end at248 attempts. He had been fortunate to not throw an interception up to this point, and he missed Aiyuk by about three or four yards in what led to Brock’s first interception of the season.
Cleveland started the drive on the 49ers 38-yard line, but Randy Gregory’s first sack with the organization ended a drive before it could gain any traction:
But the offense lost yardage on their next drive. They were also without McCaffrey, who was questionable to return with an oblique injury.
After Shemar Jean-Charles had a 15-yard penalty for not coming back in bounds right away, the Browns started another drive in 49er territory. Cleveland gained 18 yards and converted on a field goal to take a 13-10 lead.
Purdy, for the first time all season, faced some adversity and trailed in the second half. McCaffrey tried to give it a go, but jogged to the locker room. The 49ers faced a couple of penalties which put them behind the chains, as the Niners punted again.
The defense gave the ball back to the offense, but the Browns continued to swarm. It felt as though the Niners defense would need to be the hero. Sure enough, Lenoir intercepted Walker and returned it inside of the Browns 10-yard line.
One play later, Jordan Mason soared through the air and just like that, the 49ers were in the lead once again at 17-13.
The Browns had a 14-play drive that only went 43 yards, but it took over seven minutes off the clock. Cleveland’s field goal made it 17-16.
The 49ers had some...questionable...play-calling. On first down, Purdy was flagged for intentional grounding. On second down, Aiyuk caught a pass for ten yards, but went out of bounds.
On 3rd & 11, Purdy had to flee the pocket and threw another incompletion. The 49ers lost one yard and didn’t force the Browns to take any of its timeouts. The best part about the drive was Mitch Wishnowsky’s 60-yard punt.
The 49ers got the Browns to 3rd & 10, but Gipson was flagged for unnecessary roughness. Gipson appeared to have hit the wide receiver in the chest, but the play wasn’t reviewable, and the Browns were gifted a first down.
Mooney Ward was also flagged for a penalty that didn’t seem like much, but it gave the Browns new life. A. 22-yard run by the Browns running back put Cleveland into field goal range ahead of the two-minute warning. That felt like game.
But Walker inexcusably stopped the clock on second down. On third down, the 49ers called another timeout to stop the clock. A field goal made it 19-17.
Purdy did his job. The 49ers moved the ball into Browns territory, but Jake Moody’s 41-yard field goal was no good, and the 49ers suffered their first loss of the season. A disappointing loss on a game that was in hand.