The Browns have a tough matchup coming out of their bye week, as they will face the 49ers at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Oct. 15.
"We know the team coming in – undefeated," HC Kevin Stefanski said. "Good players at every level. Really good scheme, good coaches. So, we're excited about the challenge."
Let's look at three of the biggest keys for the Browns to beat the 49ers at home.
Allow QB P.J. Walker to be comfortable in commanding the offense
Walker earns the start at quarterback on Sunday after QB Deshaun Watson was ruled out with a shoulder injury. Throughout the week of practice, Walker took reps with the first team and said it helped him feel comfortable with calling plays and hearing himself talk about the cadence.
On Sunday, the Browns have to find ways to allow him to feel comfortable in the offense from the beginning of the game. Stefanski said they must play to the strengths of their quarterbacks, and one of Walker's strengths is in his arm.
Walker's communication with the receiving core has been a point of emphasis throughout the week so Walker can learn about the Browns receivers in guys like Elijah Moore, Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Now, they'll have to use that communication to their advantage on Sunday to help Walker.
"I've been certainly impressed with P.J. and the way he's approached practice, walkthroughs, the meeting room," pass game coordinator and wide receiver coach Chad O'Shea. "And it's been very nice to see the receiving group and him work well together."
Find ways to limit RB Christian McCaffrey and TE George Kittle
The Browns defense have several guys on the 49ers offense that they have to account for, and their pass rush and run defense will need to be top notch.
Two of those 49ers' targets will be RB Christian McCaffrey and TE George Kittle. Through the first five games, McCaffrey has rushed for 510 yards on 99 carries for seven touchdowns, as well as 168 receiving yards and one touchdown. Kittle has 215 receiving yards on 17 receptions for three touchdowns.
"I think he's dynamic," DE Myles Garrett said of McCaffrey. "He can catch the ball this way, he can run the ball, not scared to stick his head in there and block, and he can run between the tackles and ability to run outside. Very versatile in what he can do, and I'd be accountable for all those things that he's willing and able to do."
Defensive line coach Ben Bloom said that George Kittle is not only fast and is highlighted because of his receiving stats and touchdowns, but Kittle is also a solid blocker. When Kittle helps as a pass or a run blocker, he has the ability to be very effective. Bloom views Kittle as a "complete tight end."
Overall, DC Jim Schwartz said that the 49ers are not a one-dimensional offense, as they can run the ball as well as they pass. They can make big plays, but also throw short passes and run after the catch. McCaffrey and WR Deebo Samuel also excel at running after the catch.
Limit turnovers and protect the ball
Ball security has continued to be a point of emphasis throughout their preparation of Week 6, as the Browns had a total of 10 turnovers in the first four weeks of the season. They went through specific drills during Monday's practice focused on ball security.
And when facing a formidable defense like the 49ers, the Browns have to limit their turnovers.
"That's the number one objective of this game is to come out with zero giveaways," OC Alex Van Pelt said. "It's been talked about already this week. It'll be talked about all the way up until game time. So, we'll give ourselves a chance to win when we don't turn the ball over, period. And it's a good defense, sure, but regardless of who's playing, we can hold on to the ball and we can make good decisions from the quarterback position."