A Bay Area-Cleveland rivalry is nothing new to the sports landscape, but we might have another one on our hands soon, if we don't already.
Granted, the newly-developing rivalry between the 49ers and Browns has been extremely one-sided, after San Francisco embarrassed Cleveland on national television in a 31-3 win Monday night. The 28-point margin of victory -- as impressive as it was -- easily could have been larger.
The 49ers had their way with the Browns throughout the contest, particularly while on defense. San Francisco's defensive line, led by standout rookie edge rusher Nick Bosa, made quarterback Baker Mayfield's life a living hell. Bosa, in particular, was constantly in Mayfield's grill, and made sure to talk some trash after sacking the Browns quarterback at the end of the first half.
Following the blowout win, Bosa explained why the matchup with Mayfield was so personal. It turns out, he wasn't the only one of his teammates who felt that way.
According to NFL.com's Mike Silver, 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman -- who intercepted Mayfield on the first play of Cleveland's second drive -- reportedly did not take kindly to Mayfield's refusal to shake hands at the pregame coin toss.
"What's amazing, and annoying, was him not shaking hands at the beginning," Sherman told Silver. "That's some college s--t. It's ridiculous. We're all trying to get psyched up, but shaking hands with your opponent -- that's NFL etiquette. And when you pull bush league stuff, that's disrespectful to the game. And believe me, that's gonna get us fired up."
Fired up, indeed.
The 49ers scored an 83-yard touchdown on their first offensive play of the game, which was immediately followed by Sherman's interception. San Francisco then proceeded to force Mayfield into two more turnovers throughout the rest of the first half, which came to a close with the 49ers leading 21-3. They then received the opening kickoff in the second half and went 90 yards in nine plays before George Kittle's touchdown made it 28-3.
The rout was on.
Cleveland never sniffed a comeback from that point on, and afterward, Sherman had some harsh words for Mayfield and what he perceived to be a lack of respect for the game.
"He hasn't earned anything in this league," Sherman said of Mayfield. "How many games has he won? He's acting like he was the MVP last year. If (Chiefs QB Patrick) Mahomes did that, it would be one thing. But he would never do that, because he has too much respect for the game.
"And when you see a guy who doesn't? You humble him every chance you get. Because eventually, he will have respect for the league -- or he'll be out of it."
It wasn't just Mayfield's behavior on Monday night that rubbed Sherman the wrong way. The 49ers cornerback sees it as an ongoing pattern, from Mayfield's insulting of New York's decision to draft quarterback Daniel Jones, to his taunting of his former coach Hue Jackson last year.
"There's no reason for him to say and do those things, especially given how little he's accomplished," Sherman continued. "That's where he's gonna have to grow up. He might get there, but he has a long way to go."
This budding 49ers-Browns rivalry has all the off-field components you look for. On the field, however, Cleveland has a long way to go to make it more competitive.