Niners simply too physical for the Browns to handle

Posted by Vic Carucci on October 30, 2011 – 11:26 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

SAN FRANCISCO — Here are some final thoughts from the Browns’ 20-10 loss against the 49ers Sunday:

–The Browns clearly stepped out of their weight class. In every possible way, the 49ers were the superior opponent. They were the bigger, stronger, and tougher team, and it showed on both sides of the line of the scrimmage. The Niners took a street-brawler’s approach to this one, and the Browns weren’t able to handle it.

–Strange game. In so many ways, it felt as if the 49ers were leading by many more than the 14-point advantage they held from late in the first half until there was 6:17 left in the fourth. But the Browns did just enough to prevent the score from getting out of hand. The Niners probably had a hand in that, too, with some conservatism on offense after taking the early lead.

–Except for the two-minute drill late in the game, the Browns’ offense continues to struggle in all areas. Being without two of their three running backs (thanks to Peyton Hillis’ sore hamstring and Montario Hardesty’s early exit with a calf injury) certainly didn’t help matters. But the problems in the passing game are a persistent theme. And facing an exceptional Niners defensive front wasn’t going to provide much of a chance for them to disappear.

–This was as sloppy a game as the Browns have played from the standpoint of offensive execution. The ball ended up on the ground way too many times. And it seemed to have less to do with the 49ers’ ultra-physical play on defense than it did with the Browns (especially Colt McCoy) simply doing a poor job of hanging onto the ball.

–That said, McCoy did some highly impressive work as a runner. He is a legitimate big-play threat as a scrambler. But it would be nice to see him do a whole lot more with his passing arm. His throw to Joshua Cribbs for the Browns’ lone touchdown was nice, although Cribbs did the heavy lifting on that play by making a good adjustment for the catch and then a great move to evade Tarell Brown and reach the end zone.

–It’s hard to say how the Browns are going to find traction in their running game. Chris Ogbonnaya gave his best effort, but he was not acquired to become the team’s primary back. And he can’t do it by himself.

–Here’s a bright spot: The Browns didn’t allow Ted Ginn Jr. (or any other Niners returner) to burn them on a return.

–Here’s another bright spot: The Browns know how to run their two-minute drill effectively enough late in games to make games interesting. They did the same thing in their previous trip to the Bay Area two weeks ago.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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49ers 20, Browns 10

Posted by Matt Florjancic on October 30, 2011 – 11:21 pm

SAN FRANCISCO — David Akers’ 26-yard field goal gave the San Francisco 49ers a 20-10 lead over the Browns with 1:56 left to play from Candlestick Park, a mark that they held for the remainder of the game.

Akers capped off an 11-play, 67-yard drive with his second field goal of the game.

Colt McCoy’s 45-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Cribbs down the left sideline pulled the Browns to within seven points of the San Francisco 49ers at 17-10 with 6:17 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Cribbs got behind the coverage of cornerback Tarell Brown, caught the pass, tiptoed along the sideline and ran through a tackle attempt before crossing the goal line. The 45-yard reception was the second-longest receiving touchdown of Cribbs’ career. The longest was a 65-yarder in last year’s home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The reception capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive that took 2:24 off the clock.

Kicker Phil Dawson hit a 52-yard field goal as the first half clock expired and cut into San Francisco’s lead at 17-3.

Wide receiver Michael Crabtree caught a two-yard touchdown pass and extended San Francisco’s lead over the Browns to 17-0 with just over 90 seconds remaining in the first half of play from Candlestick Park.

Crabtree’s reception — his first receiving touchdown of the season — capped off a 12-play, 64-yard drive that took 4:21 off the second quarter clock.

Earlier in the quarter, the Browns defense stopped San Francisco running back Frank Gore short of the goal line on fourth-and-goal with 9:47 remaining in the first half of play.

Despite San Francisco’s challenge of the ruling, the play was upheld by an official review and the score remained 10-0 in favor of the 49ers.

The ten-play, 82-yard drive came up short after it was initially ruled that Gore had a seven-yard touchdown run up the middle. Gore — who would have registered his second score of the game and sixth of the season — would have given the 49ers a 17-0 over the Browns with 11:21 remaining in the second quarter.

Earlier in the drive, Gore — who rushed for more than 100 yards in the first half — had a 26-yard run behind the right side of his offensive line.

San Francisco enjoyed a 10-0 lead over the Browns after one quarter of play.

David Akers’ 29-yard field goal extended San Francisco’s lead to 10-0 over the Browns with 2:55 remaining in the first quarter.

Akers capped off an 11-play, 88-yard drive that took 7:03 off the clock.

The Browns had the 49ers backed up to the shadows of their own goal line, but back-to-back runs from Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter put San Francisco inside Cleveland territory. On second-and-nine from inside the two-yard line, Gore ran around left end, got a block that sealed T.J. Ward in the box and scooted 25 yards.

Not to be outdone, Hunter took a handoff around, ran around left end, gained 26 yards and set up San Francisco with a first-and-10 from Cleveland’s 48-yard line.

The big plays continued when Alex Smith delivered a first-down pass to Joe Staley for a gain of 17 yards.

San Francisco’s defense forced a turnover on just the second play of the game and the offense turned a fumble into a touchdown and a 7-0 lead over the Browns with 12:44 remaining in the first quarter of play.

Gore capped off the four-play, 20-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run. Gore carried three times on the drive and accounted 13 yards.

Earlier in the possession, Smith threw a pass intended for wide receiver Michael Crabtree on third-and-six from Cleveland’s 16-yard line. After breaking up the previous throw, Joe Haden was flagged for pass interference, which set up a first-and-goal from the nine-yard line.

The 49ers’ initial possession of the game was set up by Ahmad Brooks’ forced fumble.

On second-and-long, Browns quarterback Colt McCoy dropped back and was sacked by Brooks, who had lost his helmet at the line of scrimmage. McCoy’s fumble was recovered by nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga.


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49ers extend lead

Posted by Matt Florjancic on October 30, 2011 – 11:14 pm

SAN FRANCISCO — David Akers’ 26-yard field goal has given the San Francisco 49ers a 20-10 lead over the Browns with 1:56 left to play from Candlestick Park.

Akers capped off an 11-play, 67-yard drive with his second field goal of the game.


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McCoy tosses TD pass

Posted by Matt Florjancic on October 30, 2011 – 11:02 pm

SAN FRANCISCO — Colt McCoy’s 45-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Cribbs down the left sideline pulled the Browns to within seven points of the San Francisco 49ers at 17-10 with 6:17 remaining in the fourth quarter of play from Candlestick Park.

Cribbs got behind the coverage of cornerback Tarell Brown, caught the pass, tiptoed along the sideline and ran through a tackle attempt before crossing the goal line. The 45-yard reception was the second-longest receiving touchdown of Cribbs’ career. The longest was a 65-yarder in last year’s home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The reception capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive that took 2:24 off the clock.


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San Francisco leads after three

Posted by Matt Florjancic on October 30, 2011 – 10:33 pm

SAN FRANCISCO — Defense reigned supreme in the third quarter of play from Candlestick Park as the Browns and San Francisco 49ers traded possessions and field position during the period. The score remained 17-3 in favor of the 49ers heading into the fourth quarter.

Kicker Phil Dawson hit a 52-yard field goal as the first half clock expired and cut into San Francisco’s lead at 17-3.

Wide receiver Michael Crabtree caught a two-yard touchdown pass and extended San Francisco’s lead over the Browns to 17-0 with just over 90 seconds remaining in the first half of play from Candlestick Park.

Crabtree’s reception — his first receiving touchdown of the season — capped off a 12-play, 64-yard drive that took 4:21 off the second quarter clock.

Earlier in the quarter, the Browns defense stopped San Francisco running back Frank Gore short of the goal line on fourth-and-goal with 9:47 remaining in the first half of play.

Despite San Francisco’s challenge of the ruling, the play was upheld by an official review and the score remained 10-0 in favor of the 49ers.

The ten-play, 82-yard drive came up short after it was initially ruled that Gore had a seven-yard touchdown run up the middle. Gore — who would have registered his second score of the game and sixth of the season — would have given the 49ers a 17-0 over the Browns with 11:21 remaining in the second quarter.

Earlier in the drive, Gore — who rushed for more than 100 yards in the first half — had a 26-yard run behind the right side of his offensive line.

San Francisco enjoyed a 10-0 lead over the Browns after one quarter of play.

David Akers’ 29-yard field goal extended San Francisco’s lead to 10-0 over the Browns with 2:55 remaining in the first quarter.

Akers capped off an 11-play, 88-yard drive that took 7:03 off the clock.

The Browns had the 49ers backed up to the shadows of their own goal line, but back-to-back runs from Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter put San Francisco inside Cleveland territory. On second-and-nine from inside the two-yard line, Gore ran around left end, got a block that sealed T.J. Ward in the box and scooted 25 yards.

Not to be outdone, Hunter took a handoff around, ran around left end, gained 26 yards and set up San Francisco with a first-and-10 from Cleveland’s 48-yard line.

The big plays continued when Alex Smith delivered a first-down pass to Joe Staley for a gain of 17 yards.

San Francisco’s defense forced a turnover on just the second play of the game and the offense turned a fumble into a touchdown and a 7-0 lead over the Browns with 12:44 remaining in the first quarter of play.

Gore capped off the four-play, 20-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run. Gore carried three times on the drive and accounted 13 yards.

Earlier in the possession, Smith threw a pass intended for wide receiver Michael Crabtree on third-and-six from Cleveland’s 16-yard line. After breaking up the previous throw, Joe Haden was flagged for pass interference, which set up a first-and-goal from the nine-yard line.

The 49ers’ initial possession of the game was set up by Ahmad Brooks’ forced fumble.

On second-and-long, Browns quarterback Colt McCoy dropped back and was sacked by Brooks, who had lost his helmet at the line of scrimmage. McCoy’s fumble was recovered by nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga.


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Browns-Niners first half feels more lopsided than the score indicates

Posted by Vic Carucci on October 30, 2011 – 9:51 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

SAN FRANCISCO – Perhaps the biggest surprise from the first half of the Browns-49ers game is that the Browns are only trailing, 17-3.

The way things have gone through most of the first half, it feels as if it should be a much more lopsided score.

The 49ers are dominating on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

Amazingly, their offensive line has consistently knocked the Browns’ stout defensive line off the ball. The lone exception was when the 49ers (not surprisingly) decided to go for it on fourth-and-goal in the second quarter and were stopped.

The Niners’ highly physical defense is taking it to the Browns. And the Browns haven’t helped themselves by being so sloppy on offense, except for some moments when they went to their two-minute offense just before halftime.

It doesn’t help that, with Peyton Hillis out with a sore hamstring and Montario Hardesty leaving the game with a calf injury, the Browns are down to one healthy back: Chris Ogbonnaya. It also doesn’t help that they continue to be ineffective in their passing game.

Should it be much of a surprise that the 49ers, who are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, are outplaying the Browns, who have been far from spectacular? No.

But it is somewhat surprising that the Browns haven’t been able to compete better than they have. The fact is, they have played poorly enough to be behind by at least three touchdowns.

The Niners have been more physical. They have been sharper in their offensive execution. They have played with a swagger and a sense of confidence that the Browns haven’t come close to matching.

The Browns are going to need something exceptional to happen for them in the second half.

Where will it come from? A big Joshua Cribbs return would be one place to start, although the 49ers have so far been superb with directional kicking that has kept him from doing so. A big turnover forced by the defense would be another. But the Niners’ excellent offensive efficiency so far doesn’t make that seem likely.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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49ers lead at halftime

Posted by Matt Florjancic on October 30, 2011 – 9:43 pm

SAN FRANCISCO — Kicker Phil Dawson hit a 52-yard field goal as the first half clock expired and cut into San Francisco’s lead at 17-3.

Wide receiver Michael Crabtree caught a two-yard touchdown pass and extended San Francisco’s lead over the Browns to 17-0 with just over 90 seconds remaining in the first half of play from Candlestick Park.

Crabtree’s reception — his first receiving touchdown of the season — capped off a 12-play, 64-yard drive that took 4:21 off the second quarter clock.

Earlier in the quarter, the Browns defense stopped San Francisco running back Frank Gore short of the goal line on fourth-and-goal with 9:47 remaining in the first half of play.

Despite San Francisco’s challenge of the ruling, the play was upheld by an official review and the score remained 10-0 in favor of the 49ers.

The ten-play, 82-yard drive came up short after it was initially ruled that Gore had a seven-yard touchdown run up the middle. Gore — who would have registered his second score of the game and sixth of the season — would have given the 49ers a 17-0 over the Browns with 11:21 remaining in the second quarter.

Earlier in the drive, Gore — who rushed for more than 100 yards in the first half — had a 26-yard run behind the right side of his offensive line.

San Francisco enjoyed a 10-0 lead over the Browns after one quarter of play.

David Akers’ 29-yard field goal extended San Francisco’s lead to 10-0 over the Browns with 2:55 remaining in the first quarter.

Akers capped off an 11-play, 88-yard drive that took 7:03 off the clock.

The Browns had the 49ers backed up to the shadows of their own goal line, but back-to-back runs from Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter put San Francisco inside Cleveland territory. On second-and-nine from inside the two-yard line, Gore ran around left end, got a block that sealed T.J. Ward in the box and scooted 25 yards.

Not to be outdone, Hunter took a handoff around, ran around left end, gained 26 yards and set up San Francisco with a first-and-10 from Cleveland’s 48-yard line.

The big plays continued when Alex Smith delivered a first-down pass to Joe Staley for a gain of 17 yards.

San Francisco’s defense forced a turnover on just the second play of the game and the offense turned a fumble into a touchdown and a 7-0 lead over the Browns with 12:44 remaining in the first quarter of play.

Gore capped off the four-play, 20-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run. Gore carried three times on the drive and accounted 13 yards.

Earlier in the possession, Smith threw a pass intended for wide receiver Michael Crabtree on third-and-six from Cleveland’s 16-yard line. After breaking up the previous throw, Joe Haden was flagged for pass interference, which set up a first-and-goal from the nine-yard line.

The 49ers’ initial possession of the game was set up by Ahmad Brooks’ forced fumble.

On second-and-long, Browns quarterback Colt McCoy dropped back and was sacked by Brooks, who had lost his helmet at the line of scrimmage. McCoy’s fumble was recovered by nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga.


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Crabtree caught touchdown pass

Posted by Matt Florjancic on October 30, 2011 – 9:35 pm

SAN FRANCISCO — Wide receiver Michael Crabtree caught a two-yard touchdown pass and extended San Francisco’s lead over the Browns to 17-0 with just over 90 seconds remaining in the first half of play from Candlestick Park.

Crabtree’s reception — his first receiving touchdown of the season — capped off a 12-play, 64-yard drive that took 4:21 off the second quarter clock.


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Browns stop Gore short

Posted by Matt Florjancic on October 30, 2011 – 9:09 pm

SAN FRANCISCO — The Browns defense stopped San Francisco running back Frank Gore short of the goal line on fourth-and-goal with 9:47 remaining in the first half of play from Candlestick Park.

Despite San Francisco’s challenge of the ruling, the play was upheld by an official review and the score remained 10-0 in favor of the 49ers.

The ten-play, 82-yard drive came up short after it was initially ruled that Gore had a seven-yard touchdown run up the middle. Gore — who would have registered his second score of the game and sixth of the season — would have given the 49ers a 17-0 over the Browns with 11:21 remaining in the second quarter.

Earlier in the drive, Gore had a 26-yard run behind the right side of his offensive line.


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49ers lead after first

Posted by Matt Florjancic on October 30, 2011 – 8:54 pm

SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco 49ers enjoy a 10-0 lead over the Browns after one quarter of play from Candlestick Park.

David Akers’ 29-yard field goal extended San Francisco’s lead to 10-0 over the Browns with 2:55 remaining in the first quarter.

Akers capped off an 11-play, 88-yard drive that took 7:03 off the clock.

The Browns had the 49ers backed up to the shadows of their own goal line, but back-to-back runs from Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter put San Francisco inside Cleveland territory. On second-and-nine from inside the two-yard line, Gore ran around left end, got a block that sealed T.J. Ward in the box and scooted 25 yards.

Not to be outdone, Hunter took a handoff around, ran around left end, gained 26 yards and set up San Francisco with a first-and-10 from Cleveland’s 48-yard line.

The big plays continued when Alex Smith delivered a first-down pass to Joe Staley for a gain of 17 yards.

San Francisco’s defense forced a turnover on just the second play of the game and the offense turned a fumble into a touchdown and a 7-0 lead over the Browns with 12:44 remaining in the first quarter of play.

Gore capped off the four-play, 20-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run. Gore carried three times on the drive and accounted 13 yards.

Earlier in the possession, Smith threw a pass intended for wide receiver Michael Crabtree on third-and-six from Cleveland’s 16-yard line. After breaking up the previous throw, Joe Haden was flagged for pass interference, which set up a first-and-goal from the nine-yard line.

The 49ers’ initial possession of the game was set up by Ahmad Brooks’ forced fumble.

On second-and-long, Browns quarterback Colt McCoy dropped back and was sacked by Brooks, who had lost his helmet at the line of scrimmage. McCoy’s fumble was recovered by nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga.


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