49ers 20 Browns 10 FINAL
Week 8 is now in the books with the 49ers win over the Browns 20 to 10. The 49ers are now 6-1 for the first time since 1999 with their first 5 game winning streak since 2001. With Seattle’s loss the 49ers now hold a 4 game lead in the NFC West and it’s only a matter of time before this team clinches the division.
First off I was way off with my half time predictions! I said Michael Crabtree looked slow on his deep routes, then he catches a 41 yard bomb and would have had another is Smith didn’t over throw him in the 3rd quarter forcing the 4th straight 3 and out in the 2nd half. The first half was great as the 49ers dominated on both sides of the ball. The offense fell flat in the 2nd half after looking sharp and efficient in the first half where they lead 17-3 at the break but only managed 3 second half points. Still the defense was dominate giving up just 1 touchdown when Terrell Brown was beat by Joshua Cribbs. Once again the team came through when they needed it most driving for its only points in the 2nd half late in the 4th quarter sealing the victory.
Frank Gore passed Roger Craig for 2nd all time on the 49ers career rushing list. Gore had a heavy workload today carrying the football 31 times for 134 yards and a TD. I love Gore as a player and believe he should be the work horse for this team but Kendall Hunter showed once again today that he should have a more active role in the lineup. On just 3 carries Hunter produced 26 yards and looked very explosive in space. It looked like the 49ers were going towards a more balanced backfield, today they took a step back and should reconsider for both the short term and the long term health of Frank Gore.
Braylon Edwards returned to the field and looked good for the most part catching 4 passes for 42 yards. He didn’t go deep much and was mostly used in short to medium slant routes. It will be key for the 49ers to get Edwards more involved in the offense as the season progresses. Right now Alex Smith is relying on Michael Crabtree as his go to WR and the team needs Edwards to have a big game and make teams recognize them as a formidable 1-2 punch.
Tight End Delaine Walker was held without a catch after coming up big with the game winning TD catch vs. the Lions before the bye. Vernon Davis didn’t do much more in the passing game catching only 3 passes for 27 yards. TEs are normally a staple in Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman’s offense but you couldn’t tell today aside from the blocking they did in the run game where each had strong games.
My favorite 2 plays of the season were today when Alex Smith completed passes to offensive tackle Joe Staley and defensive tackle/fullback Isaac Sopoaga each the first of their careers. Great innovation on the 49ers part as the Browns were caught completely off guard, nice touch on both passes by Alex Smith and each big man did a nice job securing the ball and rumbling downfield!
The win vs. the Browns wasn’t pretty but it looked a lot like 2011 Jim Harbaugh football. Dominate defense, solid special teams play, unrelenting running game and efficient safe passing game. Sooner or later the 49ers are going to run into a team that makes them pass the ball more and get into a shootout. With weapons like Gore, Hunter, Davis, Walker, Edwards, Crabtree and Ginn if I had to knock the 49ers for one thing this season it would be that they haven’t had a game yet in which they have utilized all of them and showed off all their pieces. It’s becoming more and more obvious that the 49ers are going to advance to the playoffs as NFC West champions if they are going to secure home field advantage and stand any chance of going deep into the playoffs every game cannot be won like this one. Sooner or later those weapons need to be unleashed and the running game cannot be the crutch that it is for this team right now. It’s early in the season just 8 weeks in, the 49ers have plenty of time to get everything clicking in time for the playoffs. For now 6-1 and a 4 game lead in the NFC West sounds pretty good.