SANTA CLARA – The 49ers entered the night as one of two unbeaten teams in the NFL.
While nobody is ready to place them on the same level of the New England Patriots, yet, but the 49ers’ season debut on prime time was impressive, nonetheless.
The 49ers dominated from early in the first quarter and cruised to a 31-3 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Monday night at Levi’s Stadium.
The 49ers entered the game with the most wins of any organization on Monday Night Football. The victory over the Browns was No. 49 in franchise history on Mondays. The 49ers improved to 4-0 for the first time since the 1990 season.
While it was mostly good news for the 49ers, there was some immediate concern when fullback Kyle Juszczyk left the game in the third quarter with what the team described as a leg injury. His status was not immediately known.
Here are three positive takeaways from the 49ers’ victory:
Breida in a hurry to give 49ers lead
The return of running back Tevin Coleman gives the 49ers another threat in the running back. And Matt Breida just keeps churning away.
Breida got the start Monday night, and he showed his unique big-play ability on the 49ers’ first play from scrimmage.
Breida took a handoff from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo through the left side of the line and blasted past Browns safety Demarious Randall, who looked as if he was running in quicksand.
The reason Randall looked so slow was because Breida was so fast while breaking off an 83-yard touchdown run. Breida was clocked at 22.3 mph by NextGen Stats, the NFL’s official tracking technology. It’s the fastest speed recorded by a ballcarrier since the start of the 2018 season.
That play set the tone for the 49ers. Breida, who also added a 5-yard touchdown reception from Jimmy Garoppolo, rushed for 114 yards on 11 carries.
Coleman split the duties with Breida and had a big day, too. Coleman rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown on 16 rushing attempts.
Defensive line’s time to shine
General manager John Lynch expressed his plan in the offseason to create a dominant defensive line. So far, it’s looking like Lynch’s plan is being fulfilled.
The 49ers’ defensive front hounded Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield from start to finish. Mayfield was under pressure throughout the game and completed just eight of 22 pass attempts for 100 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. He was benched in the fourth quarter with a 13.4 passer rating.
Rookie defensive end Nick Bosa, the No. 2 overall draft pick, had his first week of full practice after nursing an ankle sprain through the 49ers’ first three games of the season. Bosa sustained his ankle injury during training camp on Aug. 7.
Bosa recorded two sacks, five quarterback hits, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble off a DeForest Buckner sack in the first half.
Secondary not a primary concern
The pass rush made things a lot easier for the 49ers’ secondary. Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley did not look like an undrafted player making his first NFL start. And free safety Jimmie Ward showed no signs of rust as he took over for Tarvarius Moore in the starting lineup.
Moseley received a lot of safety help over the top, but he also held up to everything the Browns threw at him on Monday night. Moseley was rarely tested in the first half. His best play came when he sprawled out to break up a pass intended for tight end Demetrius Harris in the end zone.
In the second half, Moseley had good coverage down the field on a deep pass that was out of bounds to Odell Beckham Jr. Interestingly, Mayfield more often attacked Richard Sherman’s side of the field.
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Sherman gave up some plays in coverage against the shifty Browns receivers, but he also used his length to high-point a Mayfield pass for a first-quarter interception.
Ward made a tackle of Browns running back Nick Chubb in the open field that saved a touchdown. That was an area in which Moore struggled in his first three games of the season.