Sakamoto: Who’s To Blame For 49ers Awful 9 Sack Performance?


I reviewed yesterday’s San Francisco 49ers vs. Cleveland Browns game using the title, ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.’ A title that I will use moving forward as I review the game-film– there’s always something positive to take from a negative situation.

Speaking of negative situations, I breakdown the 49ers offense as they allowed nine sacks to QB Blaine Gabbert. Let that settle in…nine!

1st Quarter


Down: 3rd and 11 @ SF 41

Personnel: 11 (1 running back/1 tight-end)

Browns Defense: Standard 4-2 Nickel Defense with single-high safety

Analysis: Chryst drew up a play-action pass on 3rd and 11. Already setting the team up for failure as the Browns played the pass — Gabbert had nowhere to throw.

Both WR Torrey Smith and WR Quinton Patton ran go-routes while TE Blake Bell ran a very short out-route (off designed-leak) in which he was running close to the line of scrimmage. Even if Bell had caught the ball it would have been for a minimal gain.

And there was WR Anquan Boldin who ran a quick slant route only to be immediately covered up by the inside linebacker.

Sack: Browns SS Donte Whitner was credited with the sack as Gabbert scrambled out of bounds as DE Paul Kruger pursued him– one-yard behind the line of scrimmage.

Blame: OC Geep Chryst for drawing up 3rd and 11 play-action pass.



Down: 2nd and 9 @ SF 28

Personnel: 21 (2 running backs/1 tight-end)

Browns Defense: 4-3 base

Analysis: Boldin ran in motion while team was in an off-set i-formation. Chryst drew up another play-action pass only to see Gabbert flat on his back as FB Bruce Miller was unable to get his hands on OLB Armonte Bryant as he whiffed on backside block.

Sack: OLB Armonte Bryant hit the C-gap with ease allowing the free-hit on Gabbert.

Blame: FB Bruce Miller


2nd Quarter


Down: 4th and 1 @ CLE 30

Personnel: 22 personnel (2 running backs/2 tight-ends)

Browns Defense: Goal-line package (9 men in the box w/single-high safety)

Analysis: The play-call was a designed leak for Bell to block and immediately get open down the seam. Another questionable play-call as OLB Nate Orchard was left uncovered — he immediately hit the c-gap bringing down Gabbert for the easy sack.

Sack: OLB Nate Orchard

Blame: OC Geep Chryst



Down: 3rd and 3 @ SF 34

Personnel: 11 (shotgun)

Browns Defense: Dime package

Analysis: RT Erik Pears held Browns DE Paul Kruger for dear life (holding penalty) as he was unable to get his hands on the pass-rush specialist flushing Gabbert to run out of bounds.

Sack: Browns FS Jordan Poyer was credited with the sack as Gabbert ran out of bounds.

Blame: RT Erik Pears



Down: 2nd and 5 @ CLE 39

Personnel: 11 (shotgun)

Browns Defense: 4-2 nickel defense

Analysis: Kruger being held earlier in the game by Pears off a simple speed-rush continued to use that move and this time was able to get the strip/sack as he turned the corner.

Sack: DE Paul Kruger

Blame: RT Erik Pears


3rd Quarter


Down: 1st and 15 @ SF 37

Personnel: 11

Browns Defense: 4-2 nickel defense

Analysis: On this sack 49ers’ rookie TE Blake Bell was moved off his spot from a simple bull-rush by Browns OLB Nate Orchard forcing Gabbert to be flushed outside the pocket before eventually running out of bounds for a 3-yard loss.

Sack: LB Christian Kirsksey

Blame: TE Blake Bell



Down: 2nd and 18 @ SF 34

Personnel: 11 personnel (shotgun)

Browns Defense: 4-2 nickel defense

Analysis: DE Desmond Bryant ran a simple stunt and of course RT Erik Pears was slow to pick up on that read as he again held Bryant for dear life — but it didn’t matter as Bryant got that sack.

Sack: DE Xavier Cooper and DE Desmond Bryant were credited with 0.5 sack.

Blame: Although C Daniel Kilgore was pushed back it was the awful blocking by Pears that resulted in that sack — blame again goes to Pears.


4th Quarter


Down: 1st and 10 @ SF 34

Personnel: 12 (1 running back/two tight-ends)

Browns Defense: 4-2 nickel

Analysis: TE Brian Leonhardt just whiffed on a block allowing OLB Nate Orchard to clean up shop while recoding his 2nd sack in the process. Play resulted in a loss of six-yards.

Sack: OLB Nate Orchard

Blame: TE Brian Leonhardt



Down: 2nd and 8 @ CLE 42

Personnel: 11 (shotgun)

Browns Defense: 4-2 nickel

Analysis: G/C Marcus Martin did NOT pick up the stunt allowing DE Armonte Bryant a free-pass on Gabbert.

Sack: DE Armonte Bryant

Blame: The 49ers gave up their second sack by stunt on the day. This clearly needs to be cleaned up as very NFL team has some form or variation of stunts. Put the blame on Martin for this one.

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.