Sunday started for the San Francisco 49ers with a familiar site. Brock Purdy found Christian McCaffrey for a touchdown on a shovel pass, and the 49ers took a 7-0 lead over the Cleveland Browns on their opening possession.
From there it was a grind as the Browns stifled Purdy and stunned the 49ers, 19-17 with practice squad quarterback P.J. Walker playing for injured Deshaun Watson.
San Francisco had a chance to win the game late, but Jake Moody missed the would-be go-ahead 41-yard field goal with six seconds remaining.
The loss was the first for the 49ers, who drop to 5-1. And they leave Cleveland with injury concerns that they largely evaded through the first five weeks of the season. Running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Deebo Samuel both left the game and did not return.
The 49ers led, 17-16 late in the fourth quarter with a chance to grind out the final minutes of the game clock. But they punted after a three-and-out to set up Cleveland’s game-winning field goal that was aided by a questionable unnecessary roughness call that kept the drive alive.
Officials flagged Gipson for contact with a defenseless receiver on the play, but replay showed Gipson made contact with his shoulder to Moore’s body and not his head. Instead of fourth-and-10 at their own 26-yard line, the Browns faced first-and-10 at their 41 with the penalty. Eight plays later, Dustin Hopkins kicked a 29-yard field goal to give the Browns a 19-17 lead with 1:40 remaining.
The 49ers had time to respond and appeared to be in line to win the game after driving 52 yards in 1:34 on their ensuing possession. Instead of going for more yardage on second-and-seven at the Cleveland 23-yard line, the 49ers instead opted for Purdy to spike the ball and set up Moody for the would-be game-winning field goal.
But Moody’s kicked sailed just outside the right upright, and the Browns held on for victory.