It became obvious early in Sunday’s game against the Browns that the 49ers run defense was in for a tough day.
On the Browns’ second possession, running back Isaiah Crowell burst off right guard for 50 yards. On the next play, Duke Johnson sprung off left guard for 19 yards. Four plays later, Crowell hammered over from the 1 for a touchdown to give Cleveland a 10-0 lead.
Crowell, a second-year man from Alabama State, had run for 50 or more yards only three times before Sunday, yet averaged 7.3 yards per carry against the 49ers, picking up 145 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Johnson, a rookie, gained 78 yards on 13 carries.
For the game, Cleveland – which came into the game as the NFL’s worst rushing offense – shredded the 49ers for 230 yards on the ground, averaging 5.6 yards a try.
The running game gave quarterback Johnny Manziel a big assist, as the Browns easily beat the 49ers 24-10.
Niners head coach Jim Tomsula chalked up the bad day to bad fundamentals.
“We didn’t tackle well on defense – missed tackles, hitting with our shoulders, not wrapping up," he told reporters.
Veteran linebacker NaVorro Bowman said it was “embarrassing the way that we lost.”
Bowman said it was a total unit breakdown that allowed the Browns to run wild.
“I’m not into the finger-pointing game,” Bowman told a writer for the team’s website. “There’s 11 guys out there and we have our defensive staff. If something happens, we all have to live with the result.”
After Sunday’s game, the 49ers have fallen to 30th in the NFL in run defense, allowing an average of 133.2 yards per game.
The 4-9 49ers will host the 10-3 Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday at 1:25 p.m. at Levi’s Stadium.