49ers

Tomsula: 'That’s as bad a feeling in sports as you can have'

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Tomsula: 'That’s as bad a feeling in sports as you can have'

CLEVELAND –- How does a team that has just four victories late in the season overlook any opponent?

That’s the question 49ers left tackle Joe Staley was asking himself after an embarrassing 24-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns, who entered Sunday with a seven-game losing streak and the worst record in the NFL.

“You can’t take anybody lightly,” Staley said. “We’re not in the position right now to take anybody lightly. We got to take it one week at a time and not give a crap about records or anything because we’re not a position where we’ve done anything. We got to play our (butts) off every single week, and we didn’t do that.”

Said wide receiver Anquan Boldin, “Especially when it's a team you know you can beat, and to have a performance like that, it sucks."

[MAIOCCO: Instant Replay: 49ers take step backward in loss to Browns]

The Browns (3-10) didn’t just defeat the 49ers (4-9). The Browns destroyed the 49ers.

Cleveland, which recorded just 17 quarterback sacks in the first 12 games, sacked Blaine Gabbert nine times to tie the worst mark in 49ers history. Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, meanwhile, had all day to throw, and he picked apart the 49ers’ secondary with 270 yards passing.

Running back Isaiah Crowell, who entered the game with a 3.2-yard average per rushing attempt, tore through the 49ers’ defense with 145 yards and two touchdowns on 20 rushing attempts. The Browns entered the game averaging just 73.9 yards rushing per game. They gained 230 yards on the ground against the 49ers.

"We got our butts handed to us," 49ers safety Eric Reid said. "Couldn’t get it going on offense. Couldn’t get it going on defense. Didn’t make any plays on special teams. You can’t win a game like that."

“I don’t want to take (anything) away from the Cleveland Browns,” 49ers coach Jim Tomsula said. “They obviously played a good football game. They won the football game. The San Francisco 49ers played a poor football game.”

The 49ers appeared to be on an uptick after winning their first road game of the season a week earlier -– a 26-20 victory in overtime against the Chicago Bears.

“Maybe we took them for granted," 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks said. "Maybe we took them light. Them having the record they had coming into this game, maybe we did take them a little light. Us getting the win last week, maybe we got a little big-headed this week and just felt that things were just going to happen. But we won last week because everybody played hard.”

The 49ers did not appear to play with much effort on Sunday, as the team was completely outclassed from the opening kickoff. In the first half alone, the 49ers were outgained 255-48. The Browns had 16 first downs; the 49ers moved the chains just twice.

“It starts up front,” Tomsula said. “We didn’t block. Our line didn’t play well up front. We didn’t tackle well on defense, missed tackles. We were hitting with our shoulders, not wrapping up. Concepts in routes being cut off. We played a poor football game.

“I think we all took a step backward today. We played poorly. From a man, there isn’t a guy in the locker rom that doesn’t own part of this, starting with me. There is enough of that to go around to everybody.”

Gabbert finished with a misleading stat line of 18 of 28 for 194 yards and a touchdown. And while the offensive line had a difficult time dealing with the Browns’ three-man pass rush on many third-down situations, Gabbert was indecisive and held onto the ball too long. He was sacked nine times for minus-44 yards.

“The biggest thing is that we didn’t execute when we needed to,” Gabbert said. “We didn’t have 11 guys on the same page enough in that football game. We have to find a way to make a play, move the football and score points. We failed to do so today.

“It all starts with me in the front. I have to do a better job, plain and simple.”

The 49ers have three games remaining to wipe away the memory of this game. The 49ers appeared to be heading in the right direction with good showings in back-to-back games against Arizona and Chicago.

But were those games just illusions?

“I don’t believe it’s an illusion,” Tomsula said. “I do believe that we are improving. Last week after the game, we took a minute to understand how that felt. We need to feel that. We need to grow on it. We obviously did not grow on it. Today, we need to take a minute to feel that feeling, because that’s as bad a feeling in sports as you can have.”

Why NFL Media's Peter Schrager believes Richard Sherman is underrated

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AP

Why NFL Media's Peter Schrager believes Richard Sherman is underrated

Richard Sherman's resume is as long as any other cornerback, but NFL analyst Peter Schrager believes the 49ers veteran is underrated. 

"I think Richard Sherman last year had a really good season," Schrager said on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football" on Monday. "The Achilles didn't seem to bother him all that much. And then when it mattered most, [he] was shutting down the No. 1 wide receivers in the league, and that was with a completely depleted defense and an offense that had an undrafted rookie named Nick Mullens keeping them afloat. I think Richard Sherman [is] still underrated." 

Sherman started 14 games in his first season with San Francisco, defending a career-low four passes and intercepting zero passes for the first time in his career. Those low counting stats would be concerning for a defensive back's first season in their 30s, even excluding the season-ending Achilles injury he sustained in 2017, but Sherman's production wasn't the same as his best years with the Seattle Seahawks in large part because NFL offenses didn't seem to underrate him. 

According to Pro Football Focus, Sherman was targeted just once every 12.6 coverage snaps. No cornerback was avoided more than him, and Sherman also ranked first among corners in allowing a reception every 20.7 coverage snaps. In other words, opposing quarterbacks seemed to rate Sherman as one of the NFL's best cornerbacks. 

[RELATED: 49ers have important conversations beginning during OTAs]

How long that continues is an open question. Sherman is entering his ninth year in the NFL and turned 31 in March. Twenty-eight defensive backs were 31 or older last NFL season, and only 12 of them were 32 or older. Sherman will be 33 if he finishes out the three-year deal he signed with the 49ers last year, and it seems likely he will be targeted more the older he gets. 

But until then, it's clear Sherman's opposition under center view him as one of the best cornerbacks in the league even if Schrager's punditry peers do not. 

Ex-49ers LB Reuben Foster reportedly suffers torn ACL, possible artery damage

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USATSI

Ex-49ers LB Reuben Foster reportedly suffers torn ACL, possible artery damage

Organized team activities began Monday for NFL teams, and Washington suffered a loss shortly after the opening of camp.

Former 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster went down during the second play of OTAs with what appeared to be a serious left leg injury. He was on the ground for several minutes before being carted off while in tears.

After an receiving an MRI, Foster's injury appears to be very serious.

That's a brutal development for Foster and Washington.

[RELATED: 49ers have important competitions beginning during OTAs]

Foster was drafted by the 49ers with the No. 31 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, which was the beginning of a tumultuous time in the Bay Area.

The Alabama product was arrested three times and suffered multiple on-field injuries during his time with the 49ers. San Francisco cut ties with Foster last November after he was accused of committing domestic battery at a team hotel in Florida.

Washington claimed the linebacker off waivers a few days later. Foster recorded  84 solo tackles in his 16-game career with the 49ers.

The 49ers have since revamped their linebacking corps after Foster's departure. They signed Kwon Alexander to a four-year contract in the offseason and spent a fifth-round draft pick on Arkansas' Dre Greenlaw.

Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch hope Alexander, once he gets fully healthy, and Greenlaw can fill the role left by Foster's departure in the middle of the defense.