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49ers look playoff-bound after beating Browns

Cleveland Browns v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

Since the NFL realigned into the current divisions in 2002, no team has blown more than a three-and-a-half game lead in their division after Week Seven.

The 49ers lead the NFC West by four games after Sunday’s 20-10 win over the Browns, which should mean that Jim Harbaugh is hosting a playoff game in his first season as a professional head coach. His team has looked better than it did in this victory, but, at 6-1 and with no real competition in the division, winning is really all the 49ers need to do at this point in the season.

The game was pretty much decided in the first half, as the Niners rode Frank Gore to a 17-3 lead. Gore went over 100 yards in the first half, finished with 134 yards and passed Roger Craig for second on the franchise’s all-time rushing yardage list. He’s 278 yards behind Joe Perry for first place, and, with four straight games of more than 100 yards, it shouldn’t be long before Gore stands alone at the top of the list.

Things didn’t run as smoothly in the second half, as the Browns found more space to run their offense and Alex Smith’s efficiency took a nose dive. Dashon Goldson picked off a pass in the end zone, though, and the 49ers offense ate nearly five minutes before a David Akers field goal after a Josh Cribbs touchdown cut the score to 17-10 in the fourth quarter.

It was a strong day overall for the 49ers defense, which finished with four sacks and forced five fumbles. Rookie Aldon Smith had a sack, giving him 6.5 on the season, and the Browns never got anything going in the running game. The team did lose defensive end Ray McDonald to a hamstring injury, something that could hurt them down the road and tight end Vernon Davis also hurt his arm in victory.

The 49ers aren’t a perfect team. The offense needs to be more consistent, for starters. With nine weeks to iron out the problems and a huge cushion over their closest competition, though, it feels like they may only be scratching the surface of what they might be able to do this season.

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41 Responses to “49ers look playoff-bound after beating Browns”
  1. joetoronto says: Oct 30, 2011 7:53 PM

    In a division like that, they’d better be playoff bound.

  2. thegonz13 says: Oct 30, 2011 7:56 PM

    Niners will get the title in one of the league’s weakest divisions

  3. 49erlifer says: Oct 30, 2011 8:03 PM

    Alex you better step your game up your accuracy just plain stinks frank and the defense cant save your ass every week cant wait till we get a real QB

  4. taco87 says: Oct 30, 2011 8:04 PM

    Yes they will get the title in a weak division with 5 of their 6 wins coming from non division games. Also it’s that same weak division that has consistently made it past the first round of the playoffs so all the haters can hate. Doesn’t matter. Go 49ers 6-1

  5. 4t9er says: Oct 30, 2011 8:09 PM

    The Rams just beat the Saints, and the Cardinals should’ve won against the Ravens. This division isn’t a pushover, but I’m happy we had most of our wins outside of the division.

  6. hasselbeck8 says: Oct 30, 2011 8:11 PM

    They beat Seattle already, so they’re really up 5 games at this point.

    Translation: Division champs

  7. pudgalvin says: Oct 30, 2011 8:12 PM

    Yes, the Cardinals and Rams are quality teams.

  8. tonymission says: Oct 30, 2011 8:13 PM

    Their remaining schedule is as weak as it gets. They will show up in playoffs and go home shortly thereafter.

  9. hbdbrowns33 says: Oct 30, 2011 8:15 PM

    Well the Browns are awful so it didnt take much. They need 2 or 3 O linemen, a RB, 2 WR, and a couple guys on D. This team is a few years away from just being good not a playoff team just good. Especially if Pat Shurmur is still the coach because he has shown nothing that warrants his position as a HC.

  10. sfwillis52 says: Oct 30, 2011 8:16 PM

    #1 defense in the league!!!

  11. dirtyjersey9er says: Oct 30, 2011 8:22 PM

    @49erlifer Alex is completing over 60 percent of his passes.

  12. sfwillis52 says: Oct 30, 2011 8:23 PM

    49erlifer says:
    Oct 30, 2011 8:03 PM
    Alex you better step your game up your accuracy just plain stinks frank and the defense cant save your ass every week cant wait till we get a real QB
    __________________________________
    What are you talking about??? Your a 49ers fan and your still bashing Alex Smith. He has 1 game with a passer rating under 85. He’s doing an amazing job, and lets not forget this is still a new offense to him and he hasn’t played 1 game with his top 3 WR’s. Frank Gore had one of the slowest starts to the season you can get, averaging like 2.5 yards per carry through the first 3 weeks…and we still went 2-1. I am so sick of people like you. I want to laugh in your face when Alex gets another contract with the Niners at the end of the season.

  13. 760raptor says: Oct 30, 2011 8:28 PM

    They may indeed lose early in the playoffs. And for many of us long suffering 49er fans that’s okay because Harbaugh is changing the culture of losing.

    They are a young team. A playoff appearance will give them valuable playoff experience and do wonders for their confidence. Remember, this team has an entirely new coaching staff and had NO mini-camps to install their new systems.

    What Harbaugh and his has staff has done is nothing short of amazing. If this season is any indication, the rest of the league better get ready for another long run of 49er success.

  14. redbullenergydrink says: Oct 30, 2011 8:40 PM

    Thumbs up if Patrick Willis is the best inside linebacker in this league!

  15. jpb12 says: Oct 30, 2011 8:40 PM

    Not their fault they’re in a crappy division.
    They could pull a McDaniels; go 2-8 and still be in the playoffs

  16. zillabeast says: Oct 30, 2011 8:46 PM

    I’m a Niner fan and I am not afraid to harp on Alex. His accuracy is still a long way from being good enough. Don’t let that stat about his completion % fool you. Dinks and dunks are nice and all, but don’t ask him to throw it downfield. That is not something Harbaugh can fix, either. Alex is just a lousy natural passer.

    This team is way more than ready and loaded at every position to become a powerhouse for years to come. It would be damn well worth giving up the 2012 draft and then some for Andrew Luck. He, Harbaugh, and this 49ers team would become a dynasty overnight.

  17. taco87 says: Oct 30, 2011 8:50 PM

    Well Andrew luck has a whole lot of hype surrounding him and I’m pretty sure nobody at the top is going to trade away a chance to grab him.

  18. superbowl45champs says: Oct 30, 2011 8:55 PM

    As far as the rest of the league being ready for a 49ers dynasty… I think you’re forgetting the NFC championship still goes through Green Bay. Coach Jimmy Handshake is still wet behind the ears and the team has to prove they are battle tested. Now if the Niners had drafted A-Rod instead of Alex Smith….LOL

  19. buckchop99 says: Oct 30, 2011 9:23 PM

    Look, ten years or so of Dwight Clark, Eddie Debarto , in jail or forgetting to pay taxes. The buctcher davis , out of Football , ncaa stuff. The Romeo where are you ? In KC. Not going anyhere! We need two more drafts to be anything in this disision. So dont say crap like this.

  20. mondzy805 says: Oct 30, 2011 9:30 PM

    Our 49ers our making all of 49ers Faithful, so proud. It’s been at least 9 years since, we had a Bad Win. I love it. In Jim We Trust.

  21. discosucs2005 says: Oct 30, 2011 9:33 PM

    The “weak division argument” hasn’t stopped the NFC West from getting to 4 Super Bowls last decade. In the worst year of the NFC West (when 7-9 won the division) they still won a playoff game. So historically, strength of division has very little to do with playoff success.

  22. rickthefactor says: Oct 30, 2011 9:35 PM

    And people thought I was out of my mind for buying season tickets when the lock out ended…

  23. ronaldmexico says: Oct 30, 2011 10:12 PM

    Once the playoffs start, anything can happen. Last year Seattle won a home game despite a losing regular season record, and the Packers barely made the playoffs on the last weekend of the season.

    Another example of the “strength” of the NFC West is that during the Alex Smith era, the division has produced zero wild card teams.

  24. niners1986 says: Oct 30, 2011 10:55 PM

    Lol all I can do is laugh at these guys hating. You guys been saying that since the beginning of the season. Yea our division is weak. Who beat the saints? Who beat em in the playoffs? Our division. Only teams I give kudos to is the steelers, bengals, bills and packers ofcoarse: anyone else on the schedule want some watch. Quote me on it. Talk once they lose not while were doing things girls.

  25. klunge says: Oct 30, 2011 10:57 PM

    So beating Cleveland is now the benchmark for post-season probability? Learn something new every day!
    Oh, and while I don’t dislike Alex Smith in general, let’s not heap Tebow-like praise on him, eh? Gore & the defense are winning these games.

  26. paulbrownsrevenge says: Oct 30, 2011 11:06 PM

    Don’t get too excited 49ers fans, that was the worst 3-3 team in the history of organized football.

  27. greatestryan says: Oct 30, 2011 11:29 PM

    With the Niners winning with the D and a strong run game, Goodell is probably getting worried about this team being in, God forbid, more than one playoff game. Look for Roger to outlaw linemen in the backfield, run-blocking, and more than one run play per first down. I’m sure Harbough would still find a way to get it done.

  28. 2ndaryinsanity says: Oct 30, 2011 11:38 PM

    Umm…shouldn’t most teams look play-off bound when they’re playing the browns? (Except for possibly the Colts and Dolphins). Also, playing in the NFC-West…it would take an epic collapse for the 49er’s not to make the play-off’s. This post definately goes under the category of “Master of the Obvious.”

  29. paulbrownsrevenge says: Oct 30, 2011 11:53 PM

    Holmgren sold Cleveland out. This is his 5 year step to a retirement check. He really doesn’t care about the Cleveland Browns or their fanbase.

    He sold us out by hiring Shurmur as our head coach, the guy has taken none of what we had going for us last year (hillis ground game) and is trying to make Colt McCoy into Tom Brady. Good luck.

    Jauron has done a fine job with the defense in only one year with a pair of rookies starting on the line.

  30. vickspuppy says: Oct 31, 2011 12:08 AM

    The Eagles will be looking for a revenge game in January. Even if we have to go to gay old san fran, we’ll kick the snot out of you on the way to our SB victory!

  31. 49ersallday says: Oct 31, 2011 12:12 AM

    the 49ers are the real deal! Alex smith isn’t great but he will do! great defenses always carry teams! last time I checked we are number 1 in points given up, first in rushing after the cowgirls got massacred and haven’t given up a rushing td all year! Alex isn’t arod but neither was Trent with the ravens or brad with the bucs, grossman with the bears but they made it there didn’t they! after all said I still hate specks and he can’t throw it deep! he throws 5 or 10 yd passes at most if longer its usually a pick ir incomplete! we don’t need luck there is gonna be plenty of qb in this years draft

  32. bossplayer213 says: Oct 31, 2011 12:30 AM

    Not sure why people keep bringing up the division, would they randomly have a different record thus far if they played in another division or something? They have only played 1 division game.

    They’ve beat a good Bengals team on the road, a good Lions team on the road, a good Eagles team on the road, and gave solid Tampa team a spanking.

    Looks to me like they are hanging L’s on teams in every division.

  33. 49ersallday says: Oct 31, 2011 12:52 AM

    *alexis, not specks

  34. 49erlifer says: Oct 31, 2011 1:50 AM

    @49erlifer Alex is completing over 60 percent of his passes.

    —————————————————-
    whats his completion percentage on passes over 10 yards? It cant be good dont get me wrong i love my niners i caught at least one home game the last 8 losing seasons but Alex can only take us so far he has overthrown at least 10 passes against detroit and cleveland alone.

  35. 49erlifer says: Oct 31, 2011 2:13 AM

    What are you talking about??? Your a 49ers fan and your still bashing Alex Smith. He has 1 game with a passer rating under 85. He’s doing an amazing job, and lets not forget this is still a new offense to him and he hasn’t played 1 game with his top 3 WR’s. Frank Gore had one of the slowest starts to the season you can get, averaging like 2.5 yards per carry through the first 3 weeks…and we still went 2-1. I am so sick of people like you. I want to laugh in your face when Alex gets another contract with the Niners at the end of the season.
    —————————————————-
    so the last two games smith did a amazing job? what games are you watching im a fan but i keep it real accuracy is an issue with alex always has been alway will be

  36. ninerdynasty says: Oct 31, 2011 2:46 AM

    sfwillis52 says: Oct 30, 2011 8:23 PM

    49erlifer says:
    Oct 30, 2011 8:03 PM
    Alex you better step your game up your accuracy just plain stinks frank and the defense cant save your ass every week cant wait till we get a real QB
    __________________________________
    What are you talking about??? Your a 49ers fan and your still bashing Alex Smith. He has 1 game with a passer rating under 85. He’s doing an amazing job, and lets not forget this is still a new offense to him and he hasn’t played 1 game with his top 3 WR’s. Frank Gore had one of the slowest starts to the season you can get, averaging like 2.5 yards per carry through the first 3 weeks…and we still went 2-1. I am so sick of people like you. I want to laugh in your face when Alex gets another contract with the Niners at the end of the season.
    ———————————————-

    sorry, im gonna have to agree with sfwillis.. I think alex still have a lot of work to do. He had guys open all over the place that he didnt see, if he had thrown that 40 yard gain to crabs a lil further.. like lead him, he shouldve gotten a td on that play.. he seems to only look at the first 2 reads and then freaks out..look at montana, he used to scan the field like 2 times within 2 seconds.. maybe smith doenst completely know the plays.. but at least he is getting it done so far. lets hope he keeps it going.

    go niners!!

  37. blackcatnfl says: Oct 31, 2011 2:50 AM

    The team with the best defense in the NFC is playoff bound? What’s next: rain is wet?

  38. niners1986 says: Oct 31, 2011 3:15 AM

    Yea NFC west is a bad division. Niners 6-1 played one game in their division so stop crying . They don’t have a division game for another 3 weeks so maybe once their 9-1 then u can shut up. Browns are great but their defense was. Can’t wait to sit Washington down and be 7-1 !

    -niner faithful

  39. tatum064 says: Oct 31, 2011 4:20 AM

    See what a defense does for a team? Very similar to 2000 Ravens. A lot is owed to Scot McCloughan who drafted a good deal of the current defensive nucleus.

  40. kevinfromphilly says: Oct 31, 2011 8:20 AM

    Thanks 49ers – you helped me win a Delaware parlay card! Of course, it would have been better if you hadn’t given me agita with that garbage TD. But thanks.

  41. fartography says: Oct 31, 2011 9:16 AM

    Keep riding Frank Gore while he’s healthy – love that guy.

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