Niner Noise did our weekly Q&A with the Cleveland Browns web site Dawg Pound Daily and editor Steve DiMatteo. Check out the answers below:
Q. The Browns defense is ranked in the top five in yards allowed per game. Who should the 49ers worry about the most on defense?
- The 49ers should likely be most worried about Joe Haden, the Browns’ second-year cornerback who is developing into a shutdown corner. The Niners have enough trouble throwing the ball, and Haden is one of those corners who can take away half a field. I’d expect to see a lot of Frank Gore on Sunday.
Q. Colt McCoy has struggled this season after showing some promise last season. Last week the offense failed to score TD’s against the Seahawks but the Browns still won the game. Is it McCoy’s fault for the offenses struggles or are there other issues that is the reason for his poor play this season?
- There is no way to put all the blame on Colt McCoy for the offense’s struggles this season – he lacks weapons to throw to and the drama surrounding running back Peyton Hillis certainly hasn’t helped. That’s not to say that McCoy hasn’t been struggling this year, losing some of his accuracy in recent games and having a hard time finding the open receiver (when there is one). I wouldn’t give up on McCoy just yet; give the Browns another draft and offseason to add some playmakers and I think you’d see a significant improvement.
Q. How much is running back Peyton Hillis’ hamstring impacting the offense? Do you think Hillis will play this Sunday, and if so will he be effective?
- Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that Hillis will be able to play on Sunday and even if he could, I wonder how effective he would be against the 49ers defense. His injury troubles are making a huge impact on this offense – without him, the Browns lose their best rushing option and an incredibly reliable receiver out of the backfield. Hillis prevents the Browns offense from becoming stagnant, as he’s one player defenses rarely have an answer for. It’s going to be significantly harder for the Browns on Sunday without Hillis.
Q. The 49ers hired away from the Browns special teams coordinator Brad Seely who has transformed the 49ers return game. Do the Browns special teams miss having Seely around?
- So far it certainly seems like that’s the case. The Browns’ special teams, which was a strength for the team in recent years, has been struggling mightily. When the Browns are so limited on offense, a poor special teams unit doesn’t help matters at all. It’s one of those cases where you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
Q. What will the Browns have to do on Sunday to pull off the upset over the 49ers?
- Simply put, the Browns are going to have to find some offense. They won’t 6-3 games every week and will start getting blown out if the offense can’t score points. There will come a time in the season where the defense will be gassed and nothing will stop a tailspin. This will be a telling game for this team, of whether or not they can rise above the absence of Hillis and actually score.
Q. What is your prediction for the game?
- The Browns defense will keep them in the game, but I am skeptical of the offense’s ability to score on the road. 49ers win, 20-10.