Baker Mayfield struggles, Browns get embarrassed in blowout loss to 49ers

For a week, it looked like the Cleveland Browns were back, and maybe still living up to the preseason hype as one of the better teams in the NFL.

One week. Only one week. In some other years, the Browns would have gladly taken one positive week.

Not this season.

The weight of expectations can be heavy. A good finish to last season, a strong rookie year by Baker Mayfield, an offseason trade for Odell Beckham Jr. and a roster that looked great on paper made the Browns darlings heading into this season. There probably aren’t any more grand expectations after a 31-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night.

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The Browns looked mostly flat for the first three weeks. But a 40-point, 530-yard explosion at the Ravens in Week 4 made it look like the Browns might have been worthy of all those positive preseason predictions after all.

Then on Monday night, the Browns were absolutely embarrassed. They’re 2-3 and one of the NFL’s bigger disappointments to this point.

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San Francisco 49ers beat the Cleveland Browns
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San Francisco 49ers beat the Cleveland Browns
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: San Francisco 49ers Defensive End Nick Bosa (97) celebrates a sack during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: Cleveland Browns Quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) looks on after being sacked by San Francisco 49ers Defensive End Nick Bosa (97) during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: San Francisco 49ers Tight End George Kittle (85) celebrates a first down during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: Cleveland Browns Quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) looks on in pain after being sacked by San Francisco 49ers Defensive End Nick Bosa (97) during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: San Francisco 49ers Tight End George Kittle (85) celebrates a first down as Cleveland Browns Defensive End Myles Garrett (95) during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: Cleveland Browns Quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) looks down during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: San Francisco 49ers Defensive End Nick Bosa (97) rushes Cleveland Browns Quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) celebrates a touchdown during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) runs down field celebrating with San Francisco 49ers Tight End George Kittle (85) after a touchdown during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: San Francisco 49ers Defensive End Nick Bosa (97) looks on during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: San Francisco 49ers Defensive End Nick Bosa (97) looks on during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: Cleveland Browns Quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) walks off the field during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: Cleveland Browns Running Back Nick Chubb (24) runs up the middle during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: Cleveland Browns Quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) looks on in pain after being sacked by San Francisco 49ers Defensive End Nick Bosa (97) during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: San Francisco 49ers Defensive End Nick Bosa (97) celebrates a tackle during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: Cleveland Browns Quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) looks on in pain after being sacked by San Francisco 49ers Defensive End Nick Bosa (97) during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: San Francisco 49ers Defensive End Nick Bosa (97) rushes the quarterback during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: San Francisco 49ers Defensive End Nick Bosa (97) looks on during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Raheem Mostert #31 of the San Francisco 49ers fights off the tackle of Eric Murray #22 of the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: San Francisco 49ers Defensive End Nick Bosa (97) waves the flag after the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Tevin Coleman #26 of the San Francisco 49ers carries the ball against the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the Cleveland Browns returns a punt against the San Francisco 49ers during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the Cleveland Browns returns a punt against the San Francisco 49ers during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch congratulates Nick Bosa #97 after a win against the Cleveland Browns at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates with fans after a win against the Cleveland Browns at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Matt Breida #22 of the San Francisco 49ers runs through the tackle of Joe Schobert #53 of the Cleveland Browns during the third quarter of an NFL football game at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers looks to pass against the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers fights off the block of Greg Robinson #78 of the Cleveland Browns during the third quarter of an NFL football game at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns looks on from the sidelines against the San Francisco 49ers during the third quarter of an NFL football game at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the Cleveland Browns stands on the sidelines rubbing his forehead against the San Francisco 49ers during the third quarter of an NFL football game at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers won the game 31-3. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes the line during their game against the Cleveland Browns at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: George Kittle #85 and Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrate after Kittle caught a touchdown pass against the Cleveland Browns during the third quarter of an NFL football game at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers won the game 31-3. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers is congratulated by Ross Dwelley #82 after he scored a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Kendrick Bourne #84 of the San Francisco 49ers is tackled by Jermaine Whitehead #35 of the Cleveland Browns at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after catching a touchdown pass against the Cleveland Browns during the third quarter of an NFL football game at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers won the game 31-3. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Matt Breida #22 of the San Francisco 49ers runs with the ball against the Cleveland Browns at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Nick Chubb #24 of the Cleveland Browns runs with the ball against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: K'Waun Williams #24 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after he sacked Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers catches a touchdown pass against the Cleveland Browns during the third quarter of an NFL football game at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers won the game 31-3. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: K'Waun Williams #24 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after he sacked Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates with Arik Armstead #91 and Dee Ford #55 after sacking quarterback Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Kyle Juszczyk #44 of the San Francisco 49ers runs the ball against the Cleveland Browns in the third quarter at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Tevin Coleman #26 of the San Francisco 49ers is tackled by Joe Schobert #53 of the Cleveland Browns in the third quarter at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers sacks Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns and forces a fumble at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: Cleveland Browns Defensive End Myles Garrett (95) sacks San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: San Francisco 49ers Safety Jimmie Ward (20) celebrates during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: San Francisco 49ers Running Back Matt Breida (22) celebrates after a touchdown during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: Cleveland Browns Quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) lies on the ground after being hit during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: San Francisco 49ers Defensive End Nick Bosa (97) tackles Cleveland Browns Quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) as he throws during the National Football League game between the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers on October 7, 2019, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Running back Nick Chubb #24 of the Cleveland Browns runs against the defense of Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers during the game at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass against the Cleveland Browns at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: George Kittle #85 is congratulated by Kyle Juszczyk #44 of the San Francisco 49ers after Garoppolo threw a touchdown pass to Kittle against the Cleveland Browns at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Quarterback Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns gets up after being hit by the defense of the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter at Levi's Stadium on October 07, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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49ers overwhelm Browns

The 49ers are 4-0 and look pretty good. Kyle Shanahan has turned a corner in his third 49ers season. His team looks like it should be in playoff contention all year. They might even be the best team in the NFC. The 49ers and the Patriots are the last two undefeated teams in the NFL.

Still, it was a disheartening performance by Cleveland. It didn’t take long for it to turn sour. On the 49ers’ first offensive play of the game, running back Matt Breida sprinted past the defense for an 83-yard touchdown. It never got better after that.

In every Browns game except the Ravens win — even a Week 2 win over the Jets, who are terrible, wasn’t sharp — the same issues have shown up. The offensive line is not good. Left tackle Greg Robinson was a turnstile as defensive end Nick Bosa blew past him play after play. Cleveland didn’t do enough to address the line in the offseason, and should regret trading away top guard Kevin Zeitler to the Giants. Pressure has affected Mayfield, who has not replicated a record-setting rookie season. He might have had the worst game of his life on Monday. The former No. 1 overall pick was 8-of-22 for 100 yards, with two interceptions. That’s a 13.4 passer rating. The Browns didn’t score a touchdown. Cleveland sat down Mayfield with about five minutes left, letting Garrett Gilbert play out the rest of the game. It was shockingly bad for a player who set an NFL record for touchdown passes by a rookie last season.

The defense got worked over too. Breida’s early touchdown run was a sign. The 49ers were more physical up front and ran the ball at will. Jimmy Garoppolo was fine, but he didn’t need to do much. When a defense can’t stop the run at all there’s not much reason to pass it too often, and that’s what happened to the Browns on Monday night.

For some reason, coach Freddie Kitchens had Beckham back to field a punt with about seven minutes left and the Browns trailing 28-3. Beckham ran around with nowhere to go, then lost a fumble. That summed up the night.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns gets up after being hit by the San Francisco 49ers defense. (Getty Images)

Freddie Kitchens not having a good debut

Hue Jackson was fired on Oct. 29 last year. So at this time a year ago, Kitchens was still a mostly anonymous running backs coach.

Kitchens got the interim offensive coordinator job after Jackson and Todd Haley were fired, had a good half-season calling plays, and parlayed that into the permanent head-coaching job. It was a meteoric rise. It was also a gamble by the Browns on a good two-month stretch running the offense. The season is still young, the Browns are only a game out of first place in a soft AFC North, but it’s hard to say the gamble to hire Kitchens is paying off. It looks like he’s struggling with the double-duty of calling plays and being head coach.

Kitchens is under the spotlight, but nothing is really working. He’s not the one failing to block for Mayfield. He’s not missing on the throws. It’s not Kitchens’ fault Antonio Callaway dropped an inaccurate but catchable pass near the goal line and it turned into a 49ers interception. Kitchens is not responsible for the Browns’ front seven getting pushed around all night by the 49ers’ offensive line. Everything was bad on Monday night.

The Browns are used to getting blown out. Their poor history is well known. That wasn’t supposed to continue this season. This was supposed to be the start of a new Browns era.

Cleveland still has 11 games to make that happen, but aside from one good game, it just looks like the same old Browns.

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

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