Halftime: 49ers 17 Browns 3
It’s halftime in San Francisco and the 49ers lead the Browns 17 to 3. Here are my half time reactions to the first half and what the 49ers must do to win in the 2nd half.
The entire defensive unit looks impressive for SF, from the line to the secondary the entire unit has been dominating. Colt McCoy hasn’t looked comfortable all game long with the 49ers defensive line and outside linebackers have been in his face almost every time he drops back to pass. Without Peyton Hillis the Browns run game has gone nowhere either. The team forced 2 more fumbles with a sack/strip of McCoy and a big hit by Donte Whitner on a run play. Today the 49ers have again demonstrated that they need to be recognized as one of the very best defenses in the entire NFL.
Page 2: More coverage of the first half and my second half predictions.
I feel a little foolish saying the 49ers running game has looked great but aside from that shut down in the red zone the run game has been a well oiled machine. Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter have combined for 5 runs of more than 20 yards and Gore looks primed for his 4th straight 100 yard game. Every time I see Hunter on the field I can’t help but think that the 49ers need to get him on the field more often, he’s just so explosive and the team could use a spark plug like him on the field more than the bench. Gore will pass Roger Craig today for 2nd on the 49ers all time rushing list, he needed 110 yards coming into the game and has 103 at the half.
Alex Smith has once again looked sharp in the passing game going 10 of 13 for 108 yards and a TD. WR Michael Crabtree looks a step slow to me on deep routes, he and Smith have missed a few times and it looks more Crabtree being not being as far along as Smith expects him to be. Still Crabtree needs to be a big part of this offense and it was nice seeing him get his first TD reception of year today.
A couple injuries to watch for the 49ers are DE Ray McDonald and guard Mike Iupati who both went down with injuries in the first half. Iupati has been banged up, he returned to action and it will be interesting to see if he lasts and plays at a high level. McDonald has been a huge part of the 49ers defense this year and it would be a big time loss if his injury was serious and he had to miss any significant time. Meanwhile Braylon Edwards returned and look quick and fluid in his routes and made a nice grab in the first half. He was involved in a blunder play on a near interception that ended up bouncing through a few players’ hands and could have been a TD reception for Edwards.
The 49ers need to continue to run the football in the second half and control the clock. The Browns cannot move the ball vs. the 49ers defense, the team is winning the battle at the line of scrimmage and that’s not going to change. Save the theatrics for teams like the Giants, Ravens and Steelers. The bread and butter will finish this Browns team off. The team needs to improve its red zone offense and think about changing up personnel inside the 10 yard line. Utilizing the team’s dynamic TE duo seems almost too obvious; WR Braylon Edwards also has a large body almost begging for red zone targets.
2nd half predictions:
Alex Smith and Braylon Edwards will connect on a 40 yard+ TD throw.
Patrick Willis will get his first interception of the year
Frank Gore will pass Roger Craig for 2nd on the 49ers all time rushing list on the first 49er possession of the 2nd half
Aldon Smith will get a sack in the 3rd quarter extending his streak to 4 straight games with a sack
49ers win 41-10