The San Francisco 49ers return from the bye to the primetime stage as they host the Cleveland Browns in Week 5. As the lone undefeated team remaining in the NFC, the 49ers look to continue their streak against a star-studded Browns team.
In this week’s Four Downs series, 49ers.com is joined by NFL Network reporter MJ Acosta. Acosta joined NFL Network in 2018 as a Bay Area-based reporter covering the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. In her role, Acosta contributes to a number of NFL Network programs such as NFL Total Access, NFL GameDay Morning and NFL Up to the Minute.
Without further ado, here are four topics ahead of the “Monday Night Football” showdown.
1. Which 49ers player are you most excited to watch in primetime?
@KeianaMartinTV: Deebo Samuel
I’m not going to take the obvious answer here (Jimmy G), but instead the rookie receiver who is due for a big day. Samuel currently leads San Francisco’s wide receivers in yardage with 147 yards on 11 receptions (13.4 yards average) and one touchdown. Despite seeing limited opportunities through the 49ers first three contests, Samuel is among the most efficient receivers in the league when targeted, according to ESPN. Kyle Shanahan has reiterated he’s waiting to see who steps up to claim the WR 1 spot, and I think Samuel makes strides towards that designation on Monday night.
@MJAcosta: Jimmy Garoppolo
Seems like an obvious choice but Jimmy G. He didn’t get his chance as a starting quarterback under the lights last year because of his ACL injury. With the momentum he’s built through the first three weeks, I think this is the perfect opportunity to show us the razzle dazzle.
2. Who is the most important Browns player to contain?
@KeianaMartinTV: Myles Garrett
Garrett is nightmare for opposing offensive lines. The former No. 1 overall pick has generated six sacks through four games, the third-most in the league behind Tampa Bay Buccaneers Shaquil Barrett (9) and Carolina Panthers Mario Addison (6.5), both of which already played in their respective Week 5 matchups. It will be another tall task for rookie tackle Justin Skule who held his own against Pittsburgh Steelers pass rusher Bud Dupree in place of an injured Joe Staley. It will be imperative to neutralize the edge rusher to allow Garoppolo and the 49ers offense to get going.
@MJAcosta: Nick Chubb
Chubb is a tough running back who can break tackles and gain yards after contact. Per Pro Football Focus, Chubb has averaged four yards after contact since entering the league last season. He’s coming off of a 165-yard, three touchdown performance on the ground against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4. Simply put, Chubb is dangerous.
3. What is the key statistic of the game?
It’s difficult to win in this league when you’re losing the turnover battle. The 49ers are extremely fortunate their five turnovers in Week 3 against the Steelers didn’t haunt them in the long run. San Francisco has turned the ball over eight times in three contests. Ball security is a must, especially against a Cleveland defense who has hauled in seven takeaways of their own.
In this game, like many, it will be about turnovers. Baker Mayfield has the longest active streak of games with an interception (5). Not only will the turnover battle be important, but capitalizing on those possessions and stacking points will be huge.
4. Bold Prediction
@KeianaMartinTV: Nick Bosa records 2+ sacks
I’m going to stick with the rookies in primetime. This time, San Francisco’s No. 2 overall pick finishes the job against Mayfield. Bosa has only recorded one sack so far this season, however he leads the team with 17 quarterback pressures on 68 pass-rush snaps and leads the league in pass-rushing productivity according to PFF. It’s worth noting those stats came while Bosa was playing on a nagging ankle injury. Bosa enters the game feeling healthier. The rookie was nowhere to be found on the team's injury report for the first time this season. Facing an offensive line who has given up 12 sacks through four games, Bosa may have an opportunity to turn those pressures into stats.
@MJAcosta: Multiple George Kittle scores
I’m not sure how “bold” this is but this will be the game where we see George Kittle celebrate in the end zone... more than once.