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Browns vs 49ers: 4 Things to watch

The point spread is not in Cleveland’s favor but maybe there is a chance

Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers

No need for small talk, you already know the situation after a rough week. I understand the fanbase is in shambles right now because of “shouldergate” with the quarterback and everyone acts like the sky is falling despite the Cleveland Browns being 2-2 right now.

The team plays a game on Sunday against the undefeated San Francisco 49ers. After alternating playing on the NFL on CBS and ESPN Monday Night Football, Cleveland will play on the NFL on Fox for the first time this season. Fox’s A-team Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, Tom Rinaldi & Erin Andrews are on the call (I prayed for this but at what cost). Kickoff is at 1:00 PM.

Here are the 4 things to watch for in this upcoming matchup.

What will the game plan be with PJ Walker under center?

Deshaun Watson is out for the game. Enter quarterback P.J. Walker. The 28-year-old has experience in this league, and he has proven at times to be a capable backup, as we saw during his time in Carolina.

Rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson isn’t ready to start in an NFL game, as we saw the last time he was out there so going with Walker makes the most sense.

As far as the offensive game plan goes, honestly, we should expect something a little more prepared than in Week 4.. The running game hasn’t been effective after the loss of running back Nick Chubb but the Browns will have to attempt to get the running game going against one of the top run defenses in the league.

As far as the passing game goes, attempt to attack the 49ers cornerbacks. The corners are sticky in coverage but if you were to look for a weak link, it is cornerback Isaiah Oliver who plays in the slot. Linebacker Fred Warner roams in coverage and it is best for Cleveland to try not to test the middle of the field in passing situations. The 49ers defense is sound in all phases and they rarely make mistakes so it is imperative that Cleveland doesn’t give them easy opportunities to capitalize on mistakes.

Another day, another challenge for the Browns defense

The Browns defense will face another daunting challenge, this time against the vaunted San Francisco offense. No need to spend too much time discussing but this group has playmakers across the board and a capable quarterback who can execute the offense efficiently and effectively.

Everyone is aware of what the 49ers offense did on Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys defense, but for some weird reason, the Cowboys defense doesn’t match up well with the 49ers offense. Cleveland does.

Everything that the Cowboys defense did on Sunday night is what the Browns defense shouldn’t do on Sunday afternoon. The 49ers offense isn’t unstoppable, there are some weaknesses (they aren’t glaring but minor) that Cleveland can exploit. Cleveland can’t shut them down but they can slow them down.

  • Move defensive end Myles Garrett around (49ers are likely to send double team/chip help if he is lined up against RT Colton McKivitz)
  • Utilize the NASCAR package (Ogbo, Myles, Za’Darius and Alex) on passing situations
  • Mix between press-man and zone coverage for the secondary and don’t allow free releases off the line of scrimmage
  • Make QB Brock Purdy uncomfortable

Cleveland has the personnel to slow this Niners offense down and the quality defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz, to do it.

How will the Browns offensive line hold up against the 49ers vaunted front 7?

Cleveland’s offensive line will face another test this upcoming Sunday. The 49ers defensive line is considered to be one of the best in all of football. Defensive end and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa and defensive tackles Javon Hargrave and Arik Armstead are a formidable group to be reckoned with. Offensive tackle Jed Wills has been the poster boy of criticism will be tested throughout the day.

Wills will likely deal with Bosa at some point during the game but how he will hold up is the main question. The Niners defense will give this offensive line issues, the line must respond. The Niners only combined for one sack on their defensive line against Dallas on Sunday night, let’s hope it stays that way. Who wins at the line of scrimmage will determine who wins this game.

Make the game close and competitive, make life miserable for QB Brock Purdy, and limit the YAC (yards after catch) brothers

The 49ers are a great team, and they are likely to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl if they were to make it there. But this team is beatable. We all saw what they did to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night but as I’ve stated before, the Cowboys don’t match up well with the 49ers.

It is a tall task for this Cleveland team to knock off a team that looks unstoppable right now. But it’s the NFL. It's a week-to-week league. We have seen stranger things happen before.

Cleveland has a talented team but if you want to be taken seriously, you have to show you can hang with the big dogs in the NFL.

It starts with Purdy; make things difficult for him. Pressure him, throw off his timing with his receivers, and force him to beat you. As far as the passing game goes, no team can generate yards after the catch like the 49ers. A 5-yard gain can turn into a 15-yard gain, and a 10-yard gain can turn into a 30-yard gain, do you see where I’m going with this?

The receivers don’t go down right away, they will fight to get the extra yards. Cleveland hasn’t struggled with tackling this season but it is imperative that they prevent big plays from occurring.

What do you think has to happen for the Browns to beat the 49ers Sunday?