CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Browns lost to the 49ers on Monday night, 31-3. But that’s just what the scoreboard said. Here are the real winners and losers:
Back in 2014, Kyle Shanahan, then offensive coordinator of the Browns, walked into head coach Mike Pettine’s offense and handed him a 32-point explanation for why he wanted out of his contract after just one season.
Shanahan, with a front-row seat to the organizations’ dysfunction at the time, wanted Pettine to know why he thought things weren’t going in the right direction. Shanahan thought it was no longer the place for him.
On Monday night, the Browns got to see what they let get away. But he’s not the only one who had to have a sense of satisfaction with the 31-3 final score.
Nick Bosa made clear that he put some thought into how he’d celebrate a sack of Baker Mayfield. He might’ve been working on it since 2017, the last time the two met, as members of Ohio State and Oklahoma. That day, Mayfield celebrated the Sooners’ win by planting (well, trying to) the Oklahoma flag at the 50-yard line of Ohio Stadium.
Bosa’s first-quarter sack of Mayfield on Monday was followed by him mimicking Mayfield’s famous flag plant.
.@nbsmallerbear WENT THERE ????— ESPN (@espn) October 8, 2019
Getting revenge on @bakermayfield for the infamous flag plant in the 2017 Oklahoma-Ohio State game.
(via @thecheckdown) pic.twitter.com/D2zflqqJnU
And let’s not forget K’Waun Williams. Williams was suspended by the Browns in 2016 when he refused to play in a preseason game against the Packers. Williams said he had an ankle injury, and doctors outside the team suggested surgery. He was released before the season and has been with the 49ers since 2017.
His second-quarter interception of Mayfield at the goal line was a major turning point in the game, the difference between a potential 14-10 halftime lead and the actual 21-3 lead the 49ers enjoyed.
Interception goals.— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) October 8, 2019
K'Waun Williams runs it back to the CLE 49! pic.twitter.com/5cc2fRRoBd
It’s hard to imagine any 49ers enjoying that win more than Shanahan, Bosa and Williams.
The 49ers gained 446 yards and had 22 first downs against the Browns. Their average gain was 6.3 yards. But, believe it or not, the defense was doing its job after a rough start, and kept the door open for the Browns to get back into the game.
The Browns trailed 14-0 when Mayfield fumbled to end the Browns’ third possession. Things looked dire even with more than three quarters to play. But the defense held, drawing a holding penalty, then getting a big stop from Mack Wilson on a screen pass. That led to the beginning of fun with field goals for the 49ers. Robbie Gould missed from 47 yards.
The Browns could only capitalize with a field goal, but it was something. Then the defense got another stop. Myles Garrett’s seventh sack of the season forced a punt, and the Browns took over at their own 22-yard line. The Browns then drove to the 49ers 6-yard line with a chance to pull within 14-10. Mayfield’s second interception of the game ended that.
A football game can have a lot of twists and turns, but the Browns looked like they knew where they were going for a while on Monday.
Then the map flew out the window.
WINNER: Nick Chubb, fullback
At the end of the day, it’s a fun play in a big loss, but Chubb’s 37-yard run in the second quarter is still worth another look.
The play came after a Browns timeout. Odell Beckham Jr. lined up deep in the backfield behind Chubb in an offset I-formation. Mayfield faked a pitch to Beckham and handed off to Chubb.
Eric Kush pulled and made a key block to spring Chubb, who raced 37 yards to the 49ers 21-yard line.
It was the most exciting thing the Browns did all night. So enjoy it.
.@nickchubb21 turns on the jets!— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 8, 2019
That’s a 37 yard gain! pic.twitter.com/QmOqBf58wL
LOSER: Antonio Callaway
Callaway was officially activated Monday morning, although he had practiced all last week leading up to the game. Coming off a four-game suspension, he even started in a three-receiver formation against the 49ers.
It didn’t go well.
Callaway didn’t catch any of his three targets, and bobbled one near the goal line that was intercepted. Prior to that play, Callaway had a false start in the red zone.
Damion Ratley seemed to be getting Callaway’s snaps by the end of the third quarter.
WINNER: Something you’ve never seen before
Beckham had two catches against the 49ers. Last week he had two catches against the Ravens.
If you witnessed it, congratulations. That’s never happened before.
Prior to this season, Beckham had less than three catches in a game just once in his career, the second game of his rookie season. He’s never had less than four catches in back-to-back games.
Look, I’m not here to say the loss to the 49ers doesn’t matter. It cost the Browns a share of first place in the AFC North, so it had consequences.
And the Browns could’ve used some momentum heading into upcoming games against the 4-1 Seahawks and 5-0 Patriots. But let’s not lose sight of the big picture here.
Weeks 9-17 still exist on the Browns’ schedule.
That’s a run that includes the following teams:
That’s nine weeks to get your act together, to ease Kareem Hunt into the offense, to get Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams up to speed on defense.
Nothing in the NFL is easy. You can’t just show up and win. But let’s just say that the Browns will have more room for error over the second half of the season.
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