Was there a better team for the Cleveland Browns to be playing on Sunday? Heading into the game, Cleveland were bearers of a seven-game losing streak, owned the worst record in the NFL, and were likely the only team that could top San Francisco’s statistical woes.
That didn’t matter.
Johnny Manziel finished the game 21 of 31 for 270 yards, one touchdown and one interception; Isiah Crowell — leader of the league’s last-ranked rushing offense — finished with 145 rushing yards on 20 touches, overall, the Browns would run for 230 yards in the game; Brian Hartline — who finished a season-ending injury — finished with eight receptions for 107 yards. Cleveland’s defense sacked 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert nine times, which tied a record for the most sacks allowed in a single game in San Francisco history.
After the game, Joe Staley and linebacker Ahmad Brooks suggested that the 49ers weren’t prepared for the Browns, and that they took them lightly. Believable, when you consider the statistical line Cleveland carries.
“You can’t take anything lightly. We’re not in a position to take anything lightly,” Staley said after the 24-10 loss on Sunday. “We’re in a position where we have to play our (butt) off every week, and today we didn’t do that. It just felt like we didn’t bother to show up and play.”
“By us getting a win last week, maybe we got a little big-headed … and thought that things were just going to happen,” Brooks said to the San Francisco Chronicle.
During his weekly press conference on Monday, San Francisco head coach Jim Tomsula wholeheartedly disagreed.
“I’d have to disagree with Joe on that,” he said. “Maybe he was speaking personally. That was something that was addressed all week.
“We have no right to overlook anyone. In the NFL, I don’t care if you’re 14-0, you can’t overlook anyone.”
And how about not protecting the quarterback in the game? Specifically addressing the sack total, Tomsula cited his offensive line’s poor technique in the game, and his defense’s inability to finish tackles, which led to 481 yards of total offense for the Browns.
“We didn’t execute,” Tomsula said.
It appeared Staley’s words on Sunday spoke the most truth of the game. Fresh off a thrilling overtime road victory, the mood around the 49ers facility was relaxed for much of the week; Tomsula could be seen walking around the stadium with a smile on his face reporters hadn’t seen since a Week 1 victory against the Vikings.
In this game, Tomsula’s players were about as prepared for the game as he was. Last week, San Francisco was gifted a victory, after one of the league’s best kicker somehow missed two clutch attempts. The Brown’s rushing offense ran all over the 49ers, almost immediately. Tomsula and his staff failed to put together a gameplan for Sunday.
David Barclay is an byteclay.com staff writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @DJamesIII