Cleveland comes into the game once again dealing with injuries on the offensive side of the ball, most notably at quarterback as Deshaun Watson has been ruled out for the second consecutive game with a bruise to the rotator cuff on his throwing shoulder. Left guard Joel Bitonio is also out and tight end David Njoku is a candidate to sit out after not practicing for most of the week.
That leaves the Browns ready for the dawn of the P.J. Walker era at quarterback, even if it is only for one week, against a San Francisco defense that is among the league’s best. The 49ers are undefeated and have won by an average of 19.8 points per game, although those five wins have come against opponents who are currently just 10-15 on the season.
While the Browns might be limited on offense, the defense can still be a difference-maker and should be in a feisty mood after having two weeks to reflect on a disappointing effort against the Baltimore Ravens.
There is a fair chance that Sunday could be a long afternoon on the North Coast of America for the good guys, but the “any given Sunday” cry is always in play, so here is everything you need to know about the game.
Records: Cleveland is 2-2. San Francisco is 5-0.
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Stadium: Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio.
Announcers: Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, Erin Andrews and Tom Rinaldi (sideline reporters) and Dean Blandino (rules analyst)
Radio: ESPN 850, 92.3 The Fan, 98.5 WNCX, 89.1 FM La Mega (Spanish)
Announcers: Andrew Siciliano, Nathan Zegura and Jerod Cherry (sidelines)
First meeting: The 49ers won the first meeting, 34-20, on October 27, 1946.
Last meeting: The 49ers won the last meeting, 31-3, in Week 5 of the 2019 season.
All-time series: The Browns lead the all-time regular-season series, including games played in the AAFC, 19-10. Cleveland has won three consecutive home games against the 49ers and five of the last six meetings in Cleveland.
Weather: 54 degrees and cloudy, with a 24 percent chance of rain and wind from the north/northwest at 16 mph. (weather.com)
Uniform: The Browns will wear their throwback all-white uniform set with their white helmet for the second time this season.
Injury report: Browns - Questionable: Tight end David Njoku (face/hand) and center Ethan Pocic (knee). Out: Quarterback Deshaun Watson (shoulder), offensive guard Joel Bitonio (knee) and wide receiver Cedric Tillman (hip). 49ers - Questionable: Running back Elijah Mitchell (knee) and linebacker Dre Greenlaw (hamstring).
The line: Browns +10 (DraftKings)
Some Notes to Remember
- Cleveland’s defense has allowed just five offensive touchdowns this season, while the 49ers come to town having scored 30 points in eight consecutive regular season games dating back to last season, according to ESPN.
- This will be the first time that Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett - Pro Football Focus’ top-graded pass rusher - will face off against San Francisco left tackle Trent Williams - PFF’s top-ranked offensive tackle. Garrett has lined up across the left tackle on 85 percent of his defensive snaps this season, according to The Athletic, so it will be interesting to see how the matchup plays out.
- P.J. Walker’s last start at quarterback came in Week 10 of last season against the Atlanta Falcons. That day he was 10-of-16 for 108 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions, in helping lead the Carolina Panthers to a win.
Kyle Shanahan has faced Jim Schwartz 9 times. Shanahan is 1-8 in those matchups and his offense has scored over 20 points just once.— Jack Hammer (@JackHammer_NFL) October 11, 2023
As the Falcons OC in 2016 Shanahan’s offense averaged 33.9 points through the first 9 games.
In game 10 they faced the Eagles with Schwartz as…
- Cleveland defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has faced off against San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan nine times and Schwartz has come out on the winning side in eight of those games.
- In those nine games, Shanahan’s offenses has managed to break 20 points just once.
- The gameday poster leans into the all-white uniforms:
- Running back Jerome Ford leads the Browns in rushing yards with 186 and total touchdowns with three.
In Case You Missed It
A Final Quote
Quarterback P.J. Walker on the importance of staying ready to play (quote via a team-provided transcript):
“For me, I prepare each week like I am the backup. That’s how I’ve always been. That’s how I always approached going into these games on Sundays, whether I’m one, two, or three. For me, it’s just always go out there prepared like I’m going to play on Sunday. Because you just never know what happens. Somebody can wake up sick on Sunday morning, and they can’t go. So for me, it’s just always be ready.”
What are you looking for from the Browns in Sunday’s game against the 49ers?