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


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.

2020 NFL Draft: How 49ers' John Lynch prepares while working from home


2020 NFL Draft: How 49ers' John Lynch prepares while working from home

The 2020 NFL Draft will be held as scheduled -- albeit remotely -- amid the coronavirus pandemic, keeping 49ers general manager John Lynch plenty busy during California's shelter-in-place order.

In-person visits with prospects at the team's facility or elsewhere are off, but Lynch said he is able to make the most of watching film of potential picks while working from his home office.

“People have a lot bigger problems than we do, I can tell you that,” Lynch told NBC Sports' Peter King for his "Football Morning in America" column. “This year’s a lot different than any year scouts and GMs have had, obviously, with all the challenges. But this time of year, what you really need is time.

"The other day, [coach] Kyle [Shanahan] called and said, ‘This is unbelievable! I’m getting so much done.’ And he’s right. He and I, this time of year, would be watching this tape in our offices, and the difference is our doors aren’t getting knocked on 50 times a day. I’m really getting a lot done.”

Lynch and Shanahan have more prospects to examine than they did a month ago. The 49ers acquired another first-round draft pick -- No. 13 overall -- when they traded dominant defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts. San Francisco, before then, was scheduled to make its first pick with the No. 31 overall selection.

[RELATED: 49ers' Jones switches agencies entering final year of deal]

That additional prep very well could've included watching Louisville's Mekhi Becton, whose Cardinals were on-screen in footage Lynch was watching during a video posted to social media last week showing how he was preparing for the draft at home. The offensive lineman is projected to be a top-10 pick next month, and Lynch simply wouldn't have had much reason to watch him with the 49ers' first pick set for the very end of the first round.

We'll know some of the players whom Lynch, Shanahan and the rest of the 49ers closely watched when the NFL draft begins April 23. The 49ers currently have seven picks: Two in the first round, two in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh.

Colts' DeForest Buckner, Sheldon Day driven by 49ers' Super Bowl loss


Colts' DeForest Buckner, Sheldon Day driven by 49ers' Super Bowl loss

Sheldon Day and DeForest Buckner will be teammates on a new team next season, driven by the last loss with their old one.

The defensive linemen joined the Indianapolis Colts this offseason via free agency and trade, respectively, after playing together for the 49ers since midway through the 2017 season. Day and Buckner's final games with San Francisco were in the 49ers' 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, and Day said the pair has additional motivation after not lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy last season.

"It was right there in our hands, and all we had to do was squeeze it and grab it (in Super Bowl LIV), and we let up," Day told reporters on his introductory conference call last week (via Colts.com). "So ultimately we have a chip on our shoulders and we know how to get there, and now we know what to do to overcome that shortcoming that we had."

Buckner sacked eventual Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes 1.5 times in the game, accounting for three of the 49ers' nine QB hits. Day, meanwhile, played a little over half of San Francisco's 76 defensive snaps and picked up a tackle.

[RELATED: 49ers' Jones switches agencies entering final year of deal]

The Indianapolis native played in a career-high 16 games with the 49ers during the 2019 regular season, and Day started each of San Francisco's playoff games. Day credited his growth to playing with Buckner, and he's going to continue picking his brain while they're still teammates.

"DeForest (has) made me detail my game," Day said. "So we would be working on pass-rush moves, bouncing ideas off of each other, just trying to make sure that our game grew together, and we're always giving each other tips. If I see something on film [I'm reaching] out to him, and vice versa. So, man, what a special guy he is."

All the while, the 49ers' Super Bowl LIV won't be far from either player's mind.