49ers

49ers takeaways: What we learned in 31-3 Week 5 win over Browns on MNF

49ers takeaways: What we learned in 31-3 Week 5 win over Browns on MNF

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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.

[RELATED: Fan's priceless reaction to Breida's TD]

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.

Seahawks linebacker shares how they decoded Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers offense

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Seahawks linebacker shares how they decoded Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers offense

The 49ers attempted to spin their overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks as an opportunity to learn, make adjustments and, ultimately, become a better team.

The 49ers may have gotten an assist after the game from one of the Seahawks’ top defensive players.

“At the end of the day, it’s a good learning lesson for us,” 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said following his team's 27-24 overtime loss to the Seahawks, his former team, at Levi's Stadium.

While the defense generally played well, the 49ers have plenty of room for improvement on offense. And their own self-scout might have received help from some observations coming from the other sideline.

Linebacker Bobby Wagner told Jim Trotter of NFL Media that he and veteran teammate K.J. Wright that they were able to decode Jimmy Garoppolo’s checks at the line of scrimmage.

“They’re a team that runs so many different things that it’s hard to get a tendency, but I felt like the last couple of times that we played them we were able to figure out what they were doing,” Wagner told Trotter.

Wagner said, “Because they run so many different things, it’s a game where you have to be disciplined and you just have to read your keys. It becomes kind of like simple football: Read your keys and it will take you to the football.”

Wagner said he and Wright were able to diagnose plays before they even developed.

“Once we started reading keys, me and K.J. started hearing the calls and picked up on the checks he was making, and it allowed us to break faster,” Wagner said.

With the knowledge Wagner shared after the Seahawks’ victory, coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff should be able to make all the necessary adjustments for the next meeting between the teams in Week 17 to close out the regular season.

The 49ers (8-1) own a half-game lead on the Seahawks (8-2) in the NFC West standings.

Why 49ers fans should be optimistic after Week 10 loss to Seahawks

Why 49ers fans should be optimistic after Week 10 loss to Seahawks

Raise your hand if you predicted the 49ers to have eight wins after their first nine games this season? You in the back, put your hand down. 

Entering coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch's third season at the helm in Santa Clara, the 49ers were expected to make a leap. But not this kind of leap.

It was reasonable to expect wild-card contention while competing in the NFC West this season, just months after owning the No. 2 pick in the draft. The 49ers, however, defied expectations to start the season and reeled off eight straight wins. After losing to a "real contender" in the Seahawks, 27-24 on Monday night, though, The Faithful has to take a deep breath. 

Analyst Peter Schrager said it best Tuesday morning on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."

"The offensive line couldn't protect anything, the Seahawks were just crashing in on Garoppolo, they couldn't catch a ball and yet, a minute left in this game, they were in position to win," Schrager said. "They went to overtime, they were in position to win. I wouldn't feel so bad if I'm a Niners fan this morning.

"That was as bad of an offensive performance they've had all season long, and yet they were still in striking distance to win."

The 49ers took an early 10-0 lead on Seattle and looked to be in driver's seat of what might have been the biggest game in the history of Levi's Stadium. And then, life came at them fast in the worst ways possible. 

San Francisco already was dealing with the injury bug going into the game as they were without George Kittle -- perhaps the best tight end in the NFL -- veteran kicker Robbie Gould and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. Once wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders exited early with a rib injury, the 49ers' offense sputtered. 

The inconsistency of the 49ers' wide receivers was on full display Monday night. Pro Football Focus marked the 49ers down for five dropped passes but it felt more like seven to nine. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's lone interception came right off the hands of receiver Kendrick Bourne. The INT was returned 44 yards and the Seahawks scored three plays later to take a 14-10 lead. 

Garoppolo was without his top-two options the majority of the game and constantly was under duress. 

Jimmy G also lost two fumbles and the Seahawks dropped at least two easy interceptions thrown by the 49ers QB. While the narrative turned to Garoppolo against Seattle QB Russell Wilson, San Francisco's signal-caller was shorthanded and the 49ers defense deserves credit for how they handled the MVP frontrunner. 

Robert Saleh's 49ers defense sacked Wilson five times and broke up five passes. Wilson threw just his second interception this season and had his lowest PFF grade of the year. The 49ers faced a superstar quarterback who has dominated them for years -- to say the least -- and actually held him in check.

[RELATED: Should 49ers have gone for tie late in overtime?]

Along with Sanders, center Weston Richburg, as well as defensive linemen Ronald Blair and D.J. Jones, exited early in the loss, and running back Matt Breida aggravated his sprained ankle. The extent of their injuries aren't yet known, though Breida is expected to get a second opinion and might miss time.

For the cards the 49ers were dealt, and having to lean on an undrafted rookie kicker who had a chance to win the game in overtime, San Francisco has plenty of reasons to be optimistic after its first loss. Now the focus turns to health and consistency with a tough remaining schedule.