The San Francisco 49ers return home to Levis® Stadium following their Week 4 bye to take on the Cleveland Browns - both teams' first matchup since Week 14 of the 2015 season. The 49ers are looking to improve their unblemished record and start 4-0 for the first time since 1990. Here are five key matchups that could decide the Monday night clash.
1. QB Jimmy Garoppolo vs. DL Myles Garrett
Jimmy Garoppolo has had a solid start to his 2019 campaign. Garoppolo has thrown for 739 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions for a quarterback rating of 96.3. His 69.0 percent completion percentage ranks eighth among quarterbacks in the NFL through the first quarter of the season. On Monday night, Myles Garrett will be a player for Garoppolo to monitor. Garrett has 6.0 sacks on the year, which ranks second in the league behind Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett. His 85.5 pass rush grade from Pro Football Focus is tied for the sixth-best in the NFL.
2. CB Richard Sherman vs. WR Odell Beckham Jr.
The 49ers captain will have his hands full on Monday night. Richard Sherman, who has looked like his "vintage" self has posted 11 tackles, four passes defensed and one pick-six to start his season. The nine-year pro will be entrusted with stymieing Browns wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr.. The electric wide receiver has hauled in 21 passes for 308 yards and one touchdown in 2019. Last season as a member of the New York Giants, Beckham Jr. had 73 receiving yards and two touchdowns in Week 10 against the 49ers.
3. LB Kwon Alexander vs. RB Nick Chubb
Kwon Alexander has had a "legendary" beginning to his 49ers career. Alexander's totaled 16 tackles so far in 2019, the second most of any 49ers defensive player. He has also been great in coverage with three passes defensed and one interception through the team's first three games. The fifth-year pro has the third-highest coverage grade among linebackers per PFF. Alexander and the 49ers defense have been stout against the run so far in 2019. The defense is yet to allow a rushing touchdown on the year. That will certainly be tested by Browns running back Nick Chubb. The second-year back has rushed for 398 yards and four touchdowns on the year. Chubb is coming off a three touchdown performance in Week 4 against the Baltimore Ravens.
4. TE George Kittle vs. DB Damarious Randall
George Kittle leads the 49ers in receptions (17) and receiving yards (165) on the season, but is he yet to find the end zone (two touchdowns were called back in Week 1). Kittle is a huge threat for the 49ers offense. The third-year tight end currently holds the highest overall PFF grade at 92.7. Looking to slow Kittle down will be Browns safety Damarious Randall. The fifth-year veteran is one of the leaders of the Browns defense. Randall returned from injury a week ago against the Ravens and posted three total tackles and a sack.
5. DL DeForest Buckner vs. QB Baker Mayfield
DeForest Buckner has been known to shine under the lights. In San Francisco's three primetime games last season, Buckner posted nine tackles and 2.5 sacks. The fourth-year pro has been productive to start the season recording 11 tackles and two sacks through the team's first three games. Buckner and the rest of the 49ers defensive line will be tasked with creating chaos in the backfield for Baker Mayfield. The second-year pro has thrown for 1,147 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions to open up the 2019 season. Mayfield is coming off of his best performance of the year throwing for 342 yards and one touchdown in the Browns Week 4 victory over the Ravens. The Browns offensive line has allowed 12 sacks and 15 quarterback hits through the team's first four weeks. Mayfield has been blitzed 42 times and been hurried 25 times. He has thrown one touchdown and two interceptions when being under duress this season.