Opponent: at Cleveland
Time: 10 a.m.
Line: Browns by 2
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Records: 49ers 4-8, Browns 2-10
TV/Radio: Ch. 40 (Joe Davis, Brady Quinn), 680, 1320
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
Blond bomber? Blaine Gabbert threw one pass deep against the Bears last Sunday: the 71-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to Torrey Smith in overtime. For the rest of the game, the 49ers quarterback took what the Bears’ defense gave him, mostly short throws underneath. The Browns tend to stack the line of scrimmage to stop the opposition’s running game. That, plus aggressive safety Donte Whitner, might create more opportunities for Gabbert to connect on long passes to Smith and others.
Draughn strike: Running back Shaun Draughn has been on eight teams since entering the league in 2011, so he says there’s not much of a revenge factor when he plays a former club, as he did Sunday in Chicago. But he was most recently with the Browns, who cut him last month. Cleveland thought it had better runners and limited Draughn to special teams. He’ll get a chance to prove he was worth a more meaningful role in Cleveland because he’ll have just that Sunday for the 49ers.
Mob Manziel: Several 49ers likened the Browns’ Johnny Manziel to the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson because both are small-ish quarterbacks who can scramble from pressure and make big plays. The 49ers had better hope that analogy is off a bit considering the issues they’ve had bringing Wilson down in recent meetings. The goal should be to keep Manziel penned inside the pocket, where his lack of height becomes a liability.
Tight end talent: The 49ers have not been beaten badly by an opposing tight end this season. But they also haven’t faced any of the league’s top tight ends. That ends Sunday against the Browns’ Gary Barnidge, whose 60 catches, 817 receiving yards and seven touchdowns all rank third among tight ends.
Unhappy returns: The only reason the 49ers’ special teams weren’t blamed for a loss in Chicago was the Bears’ special teams made one more critical mistake. Thomas McGaughey, the 49ers’ special-teams coach, said Chicago’s long kick return at the end of regulation happened because two defenders veered out of their tackle lanes. That can’t happen in Cleveland. As in Chicago, special teams could be the difference between winning and losing.
Out: RB Carlos Hyde (foot), TE Vance McDonald (concussion), LB Michael Wilhoite (ankle)
Questionable: CB Tramaine Brock (foot), LB Aaron Lynch (concussion), WR Torrey Smith (back, toe)
Probable: DT Arik Armstead (shoulder), WR Anquan Boldin (hamstring), G Alex Boone (knee), LB Navorro Bowman (shoulder, finger), DT Quinton Dial (shoulder), RB Kendall Gaskins (hamstring), LB Eli Harold (shoulder), C Marcus Martin (ankle), T Erik Pears (knee), DT Mike Purcell (shoulder), T Joe Staley (knee), S Jaquiski Tartt (ankle), G Andrew Tiller (knee)
Out: CB Justin Gilbert (concussion), CB Joe Haden (concussion), WR Andrew Hawkins (concussion)
Questionable: TE Gary Barnidge (ankle), WR Travis Benjamin (shoulder), WR Taylor Gabriel (concussion), WR Brian Hartline (hip), WR Marlon Moore (ribs)
Probable: G Cameron Erving (ankle), QB Johnny Manziel (right elbow)
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