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:
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.