It was hyped as a statement game and the San Francisco 49ers did exactly that. An elite defensive effort set the tone early as the 49ers improved to a strong 4-0 record and some nationally televised recognition with a dominant 28-3 win over the Cleveland Browns.
The 49ers offense started even stronger. It was the literal perfect start, as Matt Breida took the first offensive play 83 yards to the house. Breida clocked at 22.3 MPH, the fastest run of any ball carrier this year.
Sherman then raised the ante. On the Browns first play of the drive, Nick Bosa got good pressure on Baker Mayfield with the resulting rushed pass promptly picked off by Sherman. Unfortunately a good piece of defense on third down punching the ball out of Deebo Samuel‘s hands resulted in no points and just a punt.
The defense did its thing again however, and a third down sack by Kwon Alexander sent the ball right back to the 49ers.
The 49ers took advantage, driving down the field with the help of a nifty little sweep by George Kittle (he can run the ball too folks!) and a beautiful reverse to Marquise Goodwin. Jimmy Garoppolo found Breida with a perfect third down play and the 49ers found themselves up 14-0 early. Tevin Coleman would score his first touchdown for the 49ers later to make it a 21-3 game.
The 49ers defense was beyond dominant. They got to Mayfield with sacks from Alexander, DeForest Buckner (who stripped the ball and turned it over) and Bosa (who should have had two sacks in the first half but was incorrectly denied one with a sack being interpreted as intentional grounding.
The 49ers scored touchdowns on every first possession in the third quarter this year, and the streak continued when Kittle caught his first touchdown for the year on a perfectly weighted pass to go 28-3 up early in the third.
Unfortunately, it isn’t a 49ers game without an important player suffering a leg injury. Kyle Juszczyk limped off the field after an incidental helmet to the knee late in the third.
The fourth quarter started very boring with the teams trading punts. However on one of these punts, the 49ers got yet another turnover. Odell Beckham Jr tried to get fancy and make a play, and Marcell Harris celebrated his return to the roster by stripping him of the ball.
Unfortunately, a dropped pass on third down by Dante Pettis made the 49ers settle for a field goal again, however fourth time was a charm (he went 0 from 3 previously with two wide and one blocked) for Robbie Gould as he finally slotted a field goal to make it 31-3. The game effectively ended here, as neither team seriously attempted to score.
There have been some impressive victories this year, but this one was sweeter than any of them with the added flavor of Monday Night Football behind it.
The team now goes to its first divisional game of the season away to the Los Angeles Rams full of confidence, and an added swagger. The chance to go 5-0 now beckons.