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49ers vs Jets: Matt Barrows' 5 players to watch

The Sacramento Bee's 49ers insider Matt Barrows gets you ready for the San Francisco 49ers vs. New York Jets game at Levi's Stadium on Sunday.
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The Sacramento Bee's 49ers insider Matt Barrows gets you ready for the San Francisco 49ers vs. New York Jets game at Levi's Stadium on Sunday.

Phil Dawson is zeroing in on his second consecutive team MVP award, which says all sorts of wonderful things about the 49ers’ kicker but the opposite about his team.

Dawson’s 94.4 field-goal percentage ranks second in the NFL and, despite a slew of foul weather games, he hasn’t missed a kick since Sept. 25.

Who else to even consider? Joe Staley is part of an offensive line that’s allowed the fifth-most sacks in the NFL this year, four of them by Staley. Per Pro Football Focus, he’s given up a career-high 39 quarterback pressures – a combination of sacks, quarterback hits and hurries – this season.

Running back Carlos Hyde’s only 100-yard game came in a Week 3 loss to Seattle in which the bulk of his yards came in garbage time. Maybe the award should go to linebacker NaVorro Bowman. After all, the 49ers collapsed like a Jenga tower when he exited the lineup Week 4.

The team’s MVP award is named for Bill Walsh, a man lionized for his keen, forward-thinking offensive mind. Since its inception in 2004, however, as many kickers (Dawson and Joe Nedney) have won the honor as offensive players (running back Frank Gore and receiver Anquan Boldin).

Speaking of Dawson, who spent his first 14 seasons in Cleveland, has anyone else noticed that the Browns and 49ers are part of some parallel loser universe? Check the league rankings and it’s as if the two teams are glued together:

The Browns rank 31st in total defense, the 49ers are 32nd; The Browns rank 29th in total offense, the 49ers are 30th. The 49ers have 20 sacks this season; only the Browns have fewer. The Browns have given up 29.3 points per game this year, which would be worst in the league if it weren’t for their West Coast twins, who are allowing 30.8 per game. It goes on and on and, …

One of the teams interested last year in trading for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick: Cleveland.

Where did the 49ers find embattled defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil? Cleveland.

The team with which the 49ers likely will be competing for best pass rusher in college football: Cleveland.

The 49ers have $41.1 million in salary cap space. The only team with more: Cleveland.

The last team the winless Browns have beaten: San Francisco.

Chip Kelly said Thursday that outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, who has been slow to return from an October high-ankle sprain, “was one of the leaders in our conditioning test” that was held in the offseason.

Lynch looked out of shape during the offseason and admitted that at one point he was 30 pounds overweight. Which begs the question: What exactly does the 49ers’ conditioning test involve, seeing how many breakfast-sausage platters can you consume before you get sleepy?

Tickets for Sunday’s game between the 49ers (1-11) and Jets (3-9) are being sold for as little as $19, according to By contrast, the lowest-priced ticket to Saturday’s Sharks-Hurricanes tilt in San Jose are $61.

There’s only one NFL team with cheaper tickets than the 49ers this weekend, and by now you probably know the answer.

You can get into the Browns’ game in Cleveland against the Bengals for $6.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at

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