Earlier this week, 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula said that his defense would have to contain Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel. He cautioned that if the Niners allowed Manziel to scramble, keep plays alive in the pocket and make something out of nothing, the 49ers would be in trouble.
On Sunday, that’s exactly what the young Browns quarterback did.
In his first start since being benched for two games because of off-the-field issues, Manziel showed off his mobility and the playmaking knack that made him “Johnny Football,” the Heisman Trophy winner at Texas A&M. Manziel led the Browns to three touchdowns and a field goal -- while the 49ers offense could never get out of its own way -- for a 24-3 victory over the 49ers in Cleveland.
The loss drops the 49ers to 4-9 while Cleveland improves to 3-10.
While Manziel was sharp, hitting 21-of-31 throws for 270 yards and a touchdown, his counterpart on the 49ers, Blaine Gabbert -- who had carried the 49ers to a win over Chicago a week earlier -- wasn’t. Gabbert completed 18-of-28 for 194 yards and was under constant pressure. The 49ers couldn’t protect him, and Gabbert went down nine times.
After four effective starts since replacing Colin Kaepernick, Gabbert had a disappointing day -- a tribute to the Cleveland pressure.
The 49ers get back into action next Sunday vs. the Cincinnati Bengals at Levi’s Stadium.