The 49ers’ star-studded offense has run all over opposing defenses during the last five weeks, racking up 30 or more points in each contest to secure a flawless 5-0 record on the 2023 NFL season.
While defenses have game-planned to limit certain 49ers playmakers, no team has figured out how to stop San Francisco’s explosive offense as a whole.
But the 49ers’ Week 6 opponent, the Cleveland Browns, has paid close attention to San Francisco’s offensive scheme and hopes to present a challenge Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
“A lot of movement pre-snap,” Browns linebacker Sione Takitaki said Monday (h/t Cleveland.com). “A lot of eye candy. But I think they’re a real solid team, obviously. It’s the reason they’re 5-0. Tip my hat to those guys, we’re excited for the matchup.”
It is no secret that 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan likes to utilize motion in his offense. A lot.
San Francisco uses motion in a variety of ways, and in the pass game, the motions open clear windows for quarterback Brock Purdy to make easy throws.
“About 80 percent of their snaps include some sort of shift or motion, including double shifts in motion,” Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “And I think on defense, we do a lot of things to try to change the picture for the quarterback after the snap.”
The 49ers are ranked among the top rushing NFL teams, being top three in rushing touchdowns (11) and rushing yards (782). They also are ranked as one of the top passing offenses in the league, with a 72.3 percent completion rate.
And Purdy, the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, has played a huge role in their success, possessing an NFL-best 123.1 passer rating.
But Cleveland’s defense might be the 49ers’ toughest challenge yet. The Browns’ talented unit, anchored by All-Pro pass rusher Myles Garrett, who has 5.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hits this season, is the NFL’s No. 1 defense through five weeks.
It has allowed just 125 passing yards per game. No other team has given up fewer than 168 passing yards per game so far this season.
Along with Garrett, the Browns have edge rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, who had 2.5 sacks, and two elite cornerbacks in Denzel Ward and Martin Emerson. Those two potentially could match up man to man with Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel — something not many defenses can do.
“I think we match up well,” Ward said. “They’re a dynamic offense and that will present a great challenge for us. But I think we’re up for a challenge and looking forward to it, going against those guys and kind of seeing where we’re at and trying to find a way to get a win.”
Last week’s “Sunday Night Football” clash with the Dallas Cowboys was supposed to be San Francisco’s big test of the season, but perhaps the trip to Cleveland will serve as a larger challenge for its high-powered offense.