1. The Browns must find a way to limit 49ers running back Frank Gore, who has rushed for 125 yards or more in each of his past three games. The 49ers have a record of 19-7 when Gore runs for at least 100 yards. The Browns’ defense is ranked 20th against the run (119.5 yards per game). The 49ers are ranked sixth in rushing (131.5 yards per game).
2. The Browns must resist the temptation to abandon their rushing attack. The 49ers’ defense is ranked second against the run (74.7 yards per game). The 49ers also are the only team in the NFL that hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown this season. Still, the Browns need to develop a rhythm on offense by committing to the run. They can’t shy away from it.
3. The Browns can’t afford to continue their trend of letdowns on special teams. Last week, they had two field goals blocked and allowed an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown that was negated by a penalty. Two weeks ago, they gave up touchdowns via a 101-yard kickoff return and a fake field goal. The 49ers have superb special teams.
4. Browns quarterback Colt McCoy and the rest of the offense have struggled as of late, averaging 12 points in their past three games. McCoy and Co. need to snap out of their funk and take advantage of the 49ers’ 22nd-ranked passing defense (261 yards per game). McCoy’s accuracy and timing have been off time and again. All-around improvement is vital.
5. The Browns must protect the ball. The 49ers are ranked third in the league with a plus-eight turnover ratio. They don’t have a strong passing defense, but they still have eight interceptions this season — cornerback Carlos Rogers has a team-high three picks. The 49ers have also forced seven fumbles and recovered six.