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49ers rout Browns

By MARY KAY CABOT • Oct 7, 2019 at 11:44 PM

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Former Ohio State star Nick Bosa summed up the game perfectly when he waved an imaginary flag and planted it in the Levi’s Stadium turf at the end of the first half — revenge for Baker Mayfield planting his Oklahoma flag in the Horseshoe after beating the Buckeyes in 2017.

Bosa, Matt Breida and the rest of the 49ers planted a big, ugly flag on the Browns with a 31-3 victory and improved to 4-0 with a thorough beatdown Monday night. It began on their first play of the game when Breida found a huge hole on the left side and sped 83 yards up the sideline for a touchdown to set the tone for the game.

The 49ers never let up the rest of the night in dropping the Browns to 2-3 and out of a first-place tie with the 3-2 Ravens in the AFC North.

San Francisco, in front of a national Monday Night Football audience, forced four turnovers, and thumbed their nose at the idea the Browns found their identity in Baltimore last week during their 40-25 rout.

The last turnover came with 7:02 left in the game when receiver Odell Beckham Jr. fumbled the ball away on a punt return. San Francisco turned that into a 44-yard field goal by Robbie Gould to make it 31-3.

That also spelled the end of the night for a struggling Mayfield, who had one of his worst games of the season. Replaced by Garrett Gilbert with the game out of reach, Mayfield completed 8-of-22 attempts for 100 yards with two interceptions for a 13.4 rating.

He was also sacked four times and fumbled twice, losing one.

The Niners, led by a relentless Bosa, forced three of their turnovers in the first half and led the Browns 28-3 at the break. They picked off Mayfield twice in the first half — including one on a drop at the goal-line by a struggling Antonio Callaway that landed in the hands of former Browns cornerback K’Waun Williams.

The score could’ve been much worse, but Gould missed his first three field goals (one was blocked). Also the 49ers failed to cash in on Mayfield’s first two turnovers — an interception by Richard Sherman one play after the Brieda TD on a pass intended for Callaway, and a fumble later in the first quarter that was forced by DeForest Buckner and recovered by Bosa.

They converted only on the backbreaking pick caused by Callaway.

With 4:45 left in the half and Mayfield facing a third and goal at the 49ers’ 6, he fired a pass at the goal-line to Callaway, who let it slip through his hands and into those of Williams, who returned it 49 yards to midfield. The 49ers converted the pick into a 19-yard TD run by Tevin Coleman on the left side for a 21-3 lead with 1:54 left in the half. Instead of 14-10 if Callaway had hung on, the game got away from the Browns there.

Nevertheless, Mayfield had one of his worst games of the season after seemingly getting it together last week in Baltimore. The ugly rating gets an asterisk because of Callaway’s miscue, but it counts against the struggling QB nevertheless.

Mayfield’s first interception by Sherman was also on a pass intended for Callaway, who was rusty — an understatement — coming off his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Callaway appeared to have problems getting lined up and was off all night.

By the second half, he was mostly standing on the sidelines while Damion Ratley replaced him. It didn’t help matters that Rashard Higgins — Mayfield’s security blanket - missed his fourth straight game with a knee injury.

What’s more, Beckham was bottled up for the second straight game, finishing with two catches for 27 yards. That came on the heels of him catching two for 20 last week. He also had two drops in the first half, depending on how hard you grade them. He dropped a bubble screen on the opening drive and a deep sideline pass on the second possession, although the throw

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, the former Browns offensive coordinator who forced his way out of Cleveland in the wake of the TextGate scandal, had his team ready to play after coming off the bye week.

He put Bosa over left Robinson much of the game, and the defensive end was too much for Robinson and other Browns to handle. One one sack on which he combined with Dee Ford, he ran right over Joel Bitonio. On another, he beat Robinson.

The Browns were also horrible against the run, and couldn’t get off the field. They surrendered 275 yards rushing to the 49ers, who were third in the league heading in.

Myles Garrett, despite working over a rookie in Justin Skule making only his making only is second NFL start, had only one sack.

The Browns must now go back to the drawing board with the Seahawks and Patriots coming up next.

 

Up next

The Browns host the Seahawks (4-1) Sunday at 1 p.m. at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

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