49ers win streak ends to Browns after Moody misses game-winning FG

Oct 15, 2023, 3:41 PM | Updated: 4:22 pm

CLEVELAND, OHIO - OCTOBER 15: Jake Moody #4 of the San Francisco 49ers kicks a field goal during th...

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It was wet and wild one in Ohio Week 6, with the game coming down to the wire. But in the end, the 49ers couldn’t convert enough to take home the win, dropping their first contest of the 2023 NFL season.

The San Francisco 49ers have been handed their first loss of the season thanks to the Cleveland Browns, falling 19-17 on the road. The Red & Gold are now 5-1 on the year, but face a lot of questions follow Sunday’s loss. Despite a horrific showing offensively, the 49ers had a a chance to win it late. But after rookie kicker Jake Moody missed the field goal, it was all over.

Here’s what led to that moment.

The 49ers came out hot on offense,  marching down the field on a 5 play, 83 yard drive to take the lead early. Mixing in both runs and passes, San Francisco found themselves in enemy territory early. The Browns also helped out with that, providing two personal fouls on running back Christian McCaffrey that put his team in the redzone. The 49ers cashed in on the next, thanks to a shovel pass to McCaffrey, taking it to the house for six points.

A 13-yard scamper to the endzone, putting the 49ers up, 7-0, early in the first quarter.

With the touchdown, McCaffrey extended his streak of games to 15 in row, second most all-time and most in 49ers’ franchise history.

The 49ers’ defense followed suit of their offense, forcing a takeaway on the opening possession. After the Browns got a couple first downs, quarterback P.J. Walker threw a pass to wideout David Bell. 49ers linebacker Fred Warner read the play well, jumping the route for the interception and 32-yard return.

That set up the offense in plus territory, but unfortunately, they couldn’t convert much thereafter.

The Browns defense came to life, getting a tackle for loss on the opening play. Already behind the sticks, the 49ers struggled to get much else, forced to attempt a field goal after four plays.

Rookie kicker Jake Moody lined up for the 54-yard try and missed it wide left. That marked the rookie’s first miss of his career, going 9 for 9 prior.

Walker and the Browns offense responded with some success, able to move the football with good play-calling. But after six plays, they were halted, in part due to a holding call that negated a touchdown for Cleveland. Forced to try a field goal, K Dustin Hopkins missed his 47-yard attempt left as well, leaving the score at 7-0 late in the first quarter.

That’s when the day took a turn for the 49ers.

San Francisco struggled on the next series, going three and out.

To make matters worse, left tackle Trent Williams and wide receiver Deebo Samuel both fell victim to the injury bug during the series. The former was able to walk off an ankle sprain and return to the contest. While the latter was left on the bench with a shoulder injury, ruled out after halftime.

Thankfully, the 49ers defense stood pat one more, forcing the home team to punt after another six plays.

San Francisco’s next drive had much more success, walking down the field on 11 plays. Qb Brock Purdy hit WR Brandon Aiyuk for 33-yard catch and run to put them in good field position. Unfortunately, the long drive was ended shortly thereafter, with the Browns getting two key stops inside the redzone to force a fourth down.

Moody came on and hit the 25-yarder to make the score, 10-0, midway through the second quarter.

Cleveland’s offense woke up after that, going on a five-play, 83 yard drive to the endzone.

The biggest play of the series came on a mistake from the 49ers, allowing WR Amari Cooper to get open in space. The Pro Bowl wideout took the catch and run 58 yards downfield before he was tackled by LB Oren Burks. Three plays later, the Browns used trickery to fool the visitors, taking a direct snap to tight end Harrison Bryant. The TE pitched it left to RB Kareem Hunt, taking it the endzone untouched from 16 yards out.

10-7 was the score, and the game is definitely on.

O the flip side, the 49ers felt out of rhythm, with Brock Purdy and the offense not clicking whatsoever. The 49ers had McCaffrey streaking downfield on a choice route, but Purdy overthrew him, missing a golden chance at a touchdown. Then, Purdy lost the football due to the wet conditions, with the ball slipping out of his hands. He recovered it, but that forced the 49ers to punt all the same.

The defense stood tough on the next possession, forcing the Browns to punt after five plays. Hoping to get a favorable kick in poor conditions, San Francisco called timeout late. Sadly, the Browns were able to hit a booming kick, putting the 49ers near their own endzone.

Purdy took a knee to close the first half, with the score 10-7.

The 49ers returned from the intermission with the hopes of better drives ahead, expect the opposite occurred entirely.

Cleveland got the ball to start the second half, going almost 50 yards before ethyl were stopped in their tracks. The biggest play came with another Cooper connection, as the wideout mossed cornerback Charvarius Ward for a 27-yard gain.

Eventually, the 49ers got pressure on Walker, forcing him to take a short scramble on third down. On came the field-goal unit one more, making the score 10 all to start the third quarter.

San Francisco’s offense struggled the rest of the way, as Purdy couldn’t hit his targets on time. Throwing behind several pass catchers, his streak of not throwing an INT came to end. Trying to hit Aiyuk on a slant, Purdy threw it behind him and into the hands of CB Martin Emerson Jr.

That Purdy pick was the first for the young 49ers QB all season, going 248 passing attempts without one.

Luckily, the 49ers defense responded, forcing a three and out for the Browns next.

But while their defense kept them around, the 49ers were a mess offensively, going three & out on their next three possessions. After losing Samuel, Purdy struggled to get his team set, committing penalties and erant throws for the next hour. At one point, the 49ers had -12 net yards in the second half, an abysmal showing for a unit full of talent.

It also didn’t help that McCaffrey suffered an injury in the third quarter, with his oblique and ribs in question. The versatile ballcarrier featured in a few more plays thereafter, before heading back to the locker room for further evaluation.

He was eventually ruled out in the fourth quarter.

On the flip side, Walker and the Browns’ offense did enough, converting one more field goal to make it 13-10 after three quarters of play.

The 49ers caught a break in the final period however, thanks to their defense.

After the 49ers went three & out on another series, Cleveland wanted to force the issue, hoping to pull away late. That didn’t happen at first, as Walker threw a bad INT to CB Deommodore Lenoir, returning it inside the Browns’ 10-yard-line.

Now first and goal, the 49ers weren’t  wasting time, giving RB Jordan Mason the ball on the next play. Leaping into the endzone, the Red & Gold had talent the lead back, 17-13, with the eight-yard score.

The home side didn’t panic though, going on a 14-play drive next. Now in four-down territory, the Browns converted once to keep the drive alive near midfield. After nearly seven minutes on game clock, pass rusher Nick Bosa got home on Walker for the sack to force a fourth-and-long situation.

Hopkins returned for the field goal, hitting it to make the score 17-16 with 3:21 left in the game.

Purdy and the offense returned to the field, unable to get anything going. Taking an intentional grounding call hurt the visitors, pushing them further on the sticks. They eventually punted back to Cleveland, only burning 25 seconds.

Getting the ball at the their 25-yard-line, the Browns managed a nine-play drive, aided by some questionable penalties against the 49ers. The first was a personal foul on safety Tashaun Gipson Sr., hitting a defenseless receiver to give them an automatic first down. The next one was a lackluster holding call on Ward, also giving the home team a first down.

Then, RB Jerome Ford broke out for a 22 yard rush to put the Browns in prime position for a FG try. After halting the visitor’s defense halted them once more, Hopkins came on to give Cleveland the lead, 19-17, with 1:43 remaining.

Despite the second-half struggles, Purdy and the offense had a chance to win this by getting into field-goal range. And that they did.

The 49ers QB was able to connect with Aiyuk on a 25-yard catch and run, putting them at the 43-yard-line of the opposition. Next, Purdy hit Aiyuk on a slant for eight yards. Then, he hit WR Jauan Jennings on an out route to secure the first down at the 26-yard-line.

With little time remaining, the offense positioned the ball where Moody would want it, clocking it with nine seconds left. Now with the game on the line, the rookie kicker had a chance to keep the team’s undefeated streak intact on a 41-yard try.

And he missed it narrowly right; ballgame.

The 49ers lose a tough one on the road to the Browns, their first regular-season loss since October of 2022. But while the defense kept them in the contest, Cleveland was the better team, deserving of the win in their minds.

“They played better than us today,” coach Kyle Shanahan said postgame. “My message to [the players] was regardless of whether we hit that [kick] or not, there’s a lot of stuff we need to improve on. We made way too many mistakes on offense.”

And while other would put it on Moody to hit the kick, the 49ers felt differently, feeling that their performance wasn’t good enough to come away with the win.

“They earned it and we didn’t this game. I would never put it on Moody at the end there. It’s great we had an opportunity to win in that fashion but we didn’t earn it,” Warner stated.

Week 6 was also Purdy’s worst performance of his career, going 12 of 27 for 125 yards passing, one TD and one INT. He finished with a 55.3 QB rating, the worst of his career.

It wasn’t all on him though, with his teammates and coaches coming to his defense afterwards.

“It wasn’t just Brock. It was everybody. Everybody had their turn on offense and it starts with me,” Shanahan added.

The QB was also honest in his assessment of the game, feeling disappointed in his overall play. But in the end, it’s just one game, looking to bounce back in a big way Week 7 against Minnesota.

“It’s going to sting the next couple of days, but we got a good group and we’ll bounce back,” Purdy said Sunday.

The 49ers will look to bounce back on Monday Night Football next week, facing the Vikings on the road. They may have to do it without some key players though, as Samuel and McCaffrey are still undergoing testing.

Upcoming San Francisco 49ers Schedule

  • Monday, October 23rd @ Minnesota Vikings – 5:15 PM PST
  • Sunday, October 29th vs. Cincinnati Bengals – 1:25 PM PST
  • Sunday, November 12th @ Jacksonville Jaguars – 10:00 AM PST
  • Sunday, November 19th vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- 1:05 PM PST

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