Another huge day for Frank Gore on Sunday, rushing for 134 and yet another TD. He is looking better than ever this year, which is huge reason for the Niners hot start in 2011. The Niners now stand at 6-1, a full 4 games ahead of the second place Seahawks. It likely won’t take more than 9 games to win this division, so it is looking more and more likely each week that this is going to be a playoff team. Alex Smith once again didn’t light up the stat books, but handled his own with another 177 yards through the air, adding a score to Crabtree who is quickly becoming the number one target in the passing game. Crabtree was once again the leading receiver after bringing in 5 catches for 54 yards, with the lone passing TD of the day.
The Niners took a commanding 17-0 lead late in the first half before Cleveland finally got on the board with a field goal for the half ended. It wasn’t until midway through the 4th that anyone scored. Joshua Cribbs took in a 45 yard TD pass. This made it a one score game late in the 4th, but the Niners were able to milk the clock and add a late field goal to make a 10 point game with under 2 minutes left, which effectively ended the game.
The Browns came into the game with a top 5 defense, so the low scoring totals should not be too alarming. Cleveland’s true weakness is in offense, and San Fran shut down the O for most of the game. With Hillis out and Hardesty leaving after only 2 carries, the Browns basically were without a running game. This forced the game into Colt McCoy’s hands who played decent, but ultimately came up short.
After stuffing the Browns, the 49ers now stand as the number one run defense in the league. They will face the sputtering Redskins next week who just recently lost top runner Tim Hightower for the season. This is another struggling offense who also are without top receiver Santana Moss. Shannahan likes to run, so expect plenty of Ryan Torain with Roy Helu mixed in as well. Newly acquired Tashard Choice is not expected to play. The Redskins are now 3-4 after losing 3 straight and being shutout Sunday by the Bills.