49ers report card: Grades on offense, defense in 31-3 win vs. Browns

49ers report card: Grades on offense, defense in 31-3 win vs. Browns

SANTA CLARA -- The Cleveland Browns won the offseason with some big-splash acquisitions, but the 49ers steamrolled past them in front of a national-television audience to remain as one of two unbeaten teams in the NFL.

The 49ers’ defense was dominant and their run game was outstanding, as San Francisco bullied its way to a 31-3 victory over the Browns on Monday night at Levi’s Stadium.

The Browns became the darlings of the NFL and a trendy pick to emerge as an upper-echelon team. But it was the 49ers who improved to 4-0 and made quarterback Baker Mayfield look completely overmatched. The 49ers and New England Patriots (5-0) are the only unbeaten teams remaining in the league.

Here are the grades from the 49ers’ performance:  

Rushing offense

All you have to know about the 49ers’ running game is what you saw in the first 11 seconds after they took possession in the first quarter. Matt Breida scampered through a gaping hole on the left side of the line and ripped off an 83-yard touchdown.

The offensive line did a good job throughout, as Breida gained 114 yards on 11 carries, and Tevin Coleman returned to action to pile up 97 yards and a touchdown on 16 rushing attempts.

Including Jimmy Garoppolo’s three kneel-downs at the end, the 49ers rushed 40 times for 275 yards (6.9 yards per attempt). 

Grade: A  

Passing offense

Garoppolo had a relatively light workload because of the success of the running game. He was fairly efficient, completing 20 of 29 pass attempts for 181 yards with touchdown passes of five yards to Matt Breida and 22 yards to George Kittle.

The pass protection held up well. The talented Browns defensive front registered two sacks of Garoppolo. Kittle caught six passes for 70 yards to lead the team. Dante Pettis started and had just one catch for 11 yards, and he dropped a pass that could’ve gone for a TD in the fourth quarter. 

Grade: B

Rushing Defense

The only thing the Browns could get going against the 49ers on Monday came on the ground. Nick Chubb rushed for 87 yards on 16 carries. One of Cleveland’s lone scoring opportunities came when Chubb blasted into the secondary. But 49ers free safety Jimmie Ward selected a good angle to limit him to 37 yards while preventing a touchdown. 

Grade: B-minus   

Passing Defense

This is where the 49ers completely dominated the Browns. Defensive end Nick Bosa destroyed the Cleveland offense, registering two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Baker Mayfield had an abysmal showing, completing just eight of 22 pass attempts for 100 yards with no touchdowns.

Richard Sherman and K’Waun Williams intercepted passes. DeForest Buckner registered a sack. Kwon Alexander and Williams combined for a sack.

Interestingly, the Browns tested Sherman more than Emmanuel Moseley, who made his first NFL start. Moseley held up very well in coverage. 

Grade: A  

[RELATED: Bosa makes franchise history in 49ers' beatdown of Browns]

Special Teams

Aside from Marcell Harris forcing a fumble from Odell Beckham on a punt return and Raheem Mostert’s ensuing recovery, very little went well for the 49ers on special teams.

The 49ers had their third long-snapper in three weeks as they wait for Kyle Nelson to return after their sixth game from a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. The field-goal unit was completely out of sync.

Robbie Gould missed field goals 47 yards (wide right), 52 yards (short) and 32 yards (blocked).

Mitch Wishnowsky had a productive day with a net average of 45.5 yards on four punts. 

Grade: D


The 49ers got a little help along the way, such as an apparent touchdown pass Antonio Callaway juggled into the hands of Williams for an interception. But, for the most part, the 49ers took the fight to the Browns. And the Browns backed down.

Anyone wondering if the 49ers are for real might not be completely convinced after this one, but it is clear that general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan have assembled a team that is talented enough to still win games convincingly even with such backups as left tackle Justin Skule and Moseley in the lineup. 

Grade: A

Jimmy Garoppolo 'really good' but not elite, analyst Chris Simms says

Jimmy Garoppolo 'really good' but not elite, analyst Chris Simms says

Is your quarterback elite? Well, if you're a fan of the 49ers then no -- at least according to Chris Simms.

The NBC Sports football analyst couldn't confidently put Jimmy Garoppolo in the elite category, but still had plenty of praise toward him, especially knowing he plans on leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

"I think there's some quarterbacks in football right now: Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, DeShaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes -- they kind of stand alone," Simms said.

After that handful of quarterbacks, Simms highlights a group of "good," a squad that he considers Jimmy G to be a part of. Plus, Garoppolo has a lot of "good" surrounding him.

The elite talents of tight end George Kittle are something that shouldn't be argued -- unless you're not sure if he's a decent blocker or not. Ahem, Doug Gottlieb.

"That's all you need to win a Super Bowl," Simms added.

The consensus around Jimmy G's eliteness is that he's not elite, but he's not bad, but he's good enough.

[RELATED: NFC offensive consultant on Jimmy G's eliteness

Got all of that?

His throwing abilities have been talked about, but once again the word "elite" was not mentioned.

49ers tackle Joe Staley doesn't have looming retirement on his mind


49ers tackle Joe Staley doesn't have looming retirement on his mind

A lot of times for athletes, it's not up to them whether or not they want to retire -- it's up to their body. For 49ers tackle Joe Staley, it's really no different.

"I like to think that I can continue to play football for as long as they'll have me," Staley said in an interview with 95.7 The Game on Thursday. "And that's my mindset. I've never thought about when an end is going to be."

The 35-year-old signed a two-year contract extension with San Francisco in June which ultimately means he could spend the entirety of his NFL career as a member of the 49ers. And while that seems like a long time, he's still soaking up the everyday grind of his job even with the setbacks he's faced this season.

"The challenges of this season have been different than seasons past," he said. "I love the adverse situations and you kind of learn a lot about yourself -- how you respond and challenge yourself daily with different goals ... "

Staley sustained a fractured left fibula earlier in the season during the Week 2 matchup against the Bengals and with a smile tried to remain positive but admitted: "it sucks." He was emotional after the injury but said that had a lot to do with how special the team was and the guys he was surrounded by.

Still, you can't fake the passion the six-time Pro Bowler brings to the 49ers and it appears you would have to pry the game away from his hands if you anticipate him hanging up his cleats any time soon.

[RELATED: How Jimmy G can enter record books in 49ers-Falcons]

"That love for the game is still there, burning," Staley said.

He finished the statement saying he doesn't have an honest answer as to just how much football is left in his body, but it's not something he's concentrating on at the moment.