Week 5's Monday Night Football contest was going to be vital for both the San Francisco 49ers and visiting Cleveland Browns, who each had something to prove during the prime-time bout.

After one half, though, San Francisco has held all the cards. And a 21-3 lead going into halftime, too.

The Browns tried to prove some trickery on the opening possession as wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., not quarterback Baker Mayfield, completed the first pass for Cleveland. But that drive amounted to nothing, outside of a Kyle Shanahan-challenged third-down conversion attempt, which was ruled in San Francisco's favor.

And on the Niners' opening play from scrimmage, all one needed to do was see running back Matt Breida rip off an 83-yard touchdown, not being touched in the process:


Up 7-0 before many fans at Levi's Stadium were able to find their seats, the Niners defense answered back shortly thereafter. Pressure by San Francisco's defensive line, namely EDGE Nick Bosa, forced Mayfield to underthrow his next attempt, which landed right in the hands of cornerback Richard Sherman.

The Niners weren't able to turn the turnover into points, but it surely kept momentum on Shanahan's sideline.

San Francisco was able to follow up its second offensive possession with a successful third one, culminating in Breida's second touchdown of the quarter -- a 5-yard catch from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, which put the 49ers up 14-0:


If things weren't looking too good for the Niners already, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner managed to knock a ball loose from Mayfield, which was subsequently grabbed by Bosa for another 49ers turnover, their second of the game up to that point.

Yet the 49ers weren't able to turn that defensive takeaway into points, either, as kicker Robbie Gould missed the would-be 47-yard field goal. He missed another late in the half, too, bringing his total of misses to four on the season. Keep an eye on that.

Cleveland threatened its following possession, yet had to settle for a 30-yard field goal to get on the board with 11:22 remaining in the first half. The Browns could have had a touchdown, although fill-in cornerback Emmanuel Moseley had one of the better pass breakups in the end zone to keep the Browns from finding pay dirt.

Moseley, who is filling in for an injured Ahkello Witherspoon, surely justified the faith Sherman had in him.

Speaking of the 49ers defense, Mayfield managed 80 first-half passing yards, losing the fumble and also tossing two first-half interceptions, the second coming from nickel corner K'Waun Williams in a key Niners red-zone defensive stand later in the second quarter. Bosa, too, was a prime force on San Francisco's defense, registering three tackles and three hits on Mayfield, too, also combining with EDGE Dee Ford for a sack late in the first half.

And the Niners managed three first-half sacks as well.

San Francisco padded its early lead just before the half, thanks to a 19-yard touchdown run by running back Tevin Coleman, who wasn't to be outdone by Breida. This put the Niners ahead 21-3 at halftime.

And the 49ers will start the second half on offense.
  • Peter Panacy
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.