CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns’ second foray on Monday Night Football this season did not go quite as planned, as after a mistake-filled four quarters of play, they suffered a 31-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
The Browns (2-3, second place in the AFC North Division) surrendered 275 rushing yards to the 49ers (4-0, first in NFC West) and managed 180 yards of total offense on the way to their third loss of the 2019 regular season.
“Definitely wasn’t the result we wanted,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said following the loss. “You’ve got to give all of the credit in the world to San Francisco. They beat us in every facet of the game.”
Here are some of the highlights of what Kitchens had to say following the loss.
The Browns had 12 possessions against the 49ers, and only two of those drives lasted longer than five plays. The Browns’ first four drives ended with two punts, an interception and a fumble, and all four of the second-half possessions resulted in punts.
Only two of those 12 possessions entered San Francisco’s side of the field.
“You get down in the red zone, you’ve got to capitalize,” Kitchens said. “We were in position to do something and we didn’t do it, so once that happens, you’ve got to maintain your composure and kind of stop the bleeding, per se, and we never did that.
“It would give you a chance to run meaningful plays that count later on. Then, you end up playing better. It’s kind of a snowball effect. Whenever you don’t make one play, you’ve got to stop the bleeding so you can get an opportunity to make those corrections, and we just never gave ourselves enough time in the game to stay in the game, to make those corrections.”
In addition to struggling to move the ball, the Browns had four turnovers, two interceptions and two fumbles, were just one of 11 (nine percent) on third-down conversion attempts and committed seven penalties for 55 lost yards.
Because of the short drives, the Browns gave the 49ers a nearly 16-minute advantage in time of possession.
“You can’t have mistakes,” Kitchens said. “You can’t have turnovers. You can’t have drops. You can’t have penalties. Offensively, that kind of summed us up. We just shot ourselves in the foot too many times, whether it be mental errors, drops, penalties.
“It’s very clear that we’ve got to do a better job mentally. We’ve got to do a better job coaching these guys. We’ve got to continue to work every day like it’s the first day, and coaching-wise, we’ve got to do a better job of putting these guys in position to make plays.”
Late in the fourth quarter, Kitchens lifted starting quarterback Baker Mayfield in favor of Garrett Gilbert, and it was all in the name of protecting the first-team signal-caller.
“I’m always concerned about protecting our quarterback,” Kitchens said. “I’m always concerned about it. It starts with me doing a better job of protecting him.
“I thought he was taking too many hits unnecessarily.”
Following the Browns’ second four-score loss this season, Kitchens acknowledged that changes need to be made in short order.
“When we’re not successful, clearly something has to change,” Kitchens said.
“It’s either we’re doing too much or we’re not doing enough. It’s something. I’ll go back and see. We’ll make improvements. We’ll move forward. We’ve got to coach better in all areas and we’ve got to play better in all areas. That’s how you win football games. You coach better and play better.”