Why Shanahan believes Browns are 49ers’ ‘biggest challenge yet’

Why Shanahan believes Browns are 49ers’ ‘biggest challenge yet’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The 49ers pummeled the Dallas Cowboys 42-10 at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday in what was supposed to be San Francisco’s most difficult challenge yet.

But with a Week 6 showdown against the Browns on the horizon, coach Kyle Shanahan crowned a new opponent as the 49ers’ biggest matchup. And it includes a trip to Cleveland.

“This game, to me, is the biggest challenge we’ve had so far,” Shanahan told reporters. “I thought that was going to be Dallas, too, going into it. But you look at this, and (Cleveland’s) defensive numbers just jump out. You see very much that they’re number one or two in everything. Red zone is the only thing they’re not, but that’s only because they’ve had eight plays there all year. But everything else is top-notch.”

The Browns deserved the high praise from Shanahan, as they’ve allowed the lowest amount of yards per game (196.8) and second-fewest points per game (15.0) through five weeks.

As Shanahan is aware of Cleveland’s talented defense, he also knows the 49ers’ offense is a juggernaut, averaging 33.4 points per game.

“We’re doing that too, offensively right now,” Shanahan told reporters. “So, it should be a hell of a battle. When you look at a defense like (Cleveland’s), a team that is committed to running the ball like they are. I mean, that’s like the prime, best way to get into the playoffs. That’s why I expect this team to be there throughout this year.”

Even though the 49ers share the NFL’s undefeated status with the Philadelphia Eagles, the 2-2 Browns are no slouch.

Cleveland is coming off a bye week and will be extra motivated, considering their last game was an embarrassing 28-3 loss to their division-rival Baltimore Ravens.

If the 49ers want to score 30 points for a ninth consecutive regular-season game en route to a win, they have to play better than they did their last time in Cleveland.

The last time the two teams met at Cleveland Browns Stadium was in 2015 when the Browns defeated the 49ers 24-10.

As Shanahan proposed, the 49ers-Browns matchup will be a battle.

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