They’re pretenders, they said. They had a bye week, they said. They’re not as undefeated as the other guys, they said. The San Francisco 49ers said otherwise.
With a dominant defense and a dominant run game, the 4-0 49ers crushed the Cleveland Browns by a score of 31-3 on Monday Night Football.
“Don’t flip-flop,” said cornerback Richard Sherman, who had an interception, said after the game. “If you said we weren’t going to make it, you said we were some way early on, stick with that position. Hold it. Don’t try to give us credit now. At least stick by your word because I want you to sound like an idiot at the end. We know what we have in the building.”
Now everyone else does too.
On the 49ers first drive, Jimmy Garoppolo handed the ball to running back Matt Breida, who proceeded to go 83-yards for a touchdown and that was basically, game, set, match. The Browns never recovered.
“We talked about throwing the first punch before the game,” said quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. “When the O-line makes a hole like that and Breida hits it, he was just flying. Makes everything a lot easier.”
Breida finished the evening with 114 rushing yards on 11 carries and one rushing touchdown, as well as three receptions for 15 yards and a touchdown. Tevin Coleman, who returned to action after being out with an ankle injury, looked every part the healthy running back, rushing for 97 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. And he looked fast, like really fast.
Fullback Kyle Juszcyk was a big reason the run was so successful, as he was a blocking machine. Unfortunately, he left the game with a knee sprain, and the 49ers will know more about the severity on Tuesday.
The 49ers’ defense was once again lights out, with rookie Nick Bosa proving that he is every bit the #2 pick in the draft, and probably should have even been #1. No more talk of him not being able to finish, as he recorded four tackles, two sacks, one tackle for a loss, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
“I was doing the same thing that I have been doing, just rushing my butt off,” Bosa said. “The fact that all the things came together for me to get a couple of sacks. A sack is a number of things; it is not just somebody winning a rush. My job is to win the rush and do my job. The DBs job is to cover and make him hold it a couple extra seconds and the rest of the guys stay in their rush lanes to keep him contained in the pocket. So there is a lot that goes into those sacks.”
Bosa also had an epic troll move on Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield, who was already having a dismal night, while mimicking the flag plant Mayfield pulled on Bosa’s Ohio State Buckeyes in 2017.
Remember Baker Mayfield planting the flag at Ohio State?
Nick Bosa sure as shit does pic.twitter.com/A08Z14syLX
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) October 8, 2019
Browns’ wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. was held to 27 receiving yards. He also fumbled a punt return and was generally a mess for Cleveland. He did complete a pass on the Browns’ first drive, and it was pretty, so there’s that.
The only area that gets an F for the evening is the field goal unit, with the usually sure-footed Robbie Gould missing all three of his attempts (one of them was blocked). There seem to be some snap issues, so, in theory, those should get ironed out in practice. That being said, Kyle Nelson’s suspension can’t end soon enough.
“…It’s a real family atmosphere that we have in there,” Garoppolo said. “Guys, offense, defense, special teams, whatever it is, all interacting with each other and it makes it fun. We’re just coming off the bye week and everything and coming back like this, it’s good to have it happen.”
The 49ers have not started a season 4-0 since 1990, when Joe Montana and Jerry Rice were leading the offense. But with the Niners traveling to Los Angeles to take on the 3-2 Rams on Sunday, there’s a long way to go.
“It means it’s still early,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan. “It means we played four games, one less than most people. If you tell me that at the end of the year when the season is over, you’ll see me celebrating up here pretty hard. It’s going to be a short week and we’ve got to get to work on the Rams pretty early tomorrow.”