Defense, again, leads way for the 49ers

October 31, 2011, 2:32 am
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Even while the 49ers' offense was going nowhere in the second half, their lead remained safe.The 49ers' defense made things difficult for second-year quarterback Colt McCoy and the Cleveland Browns' non-existent run game on Sunday at Candlestick Park. The defense powered the way to the 49ers' 20-10 victory."I thought the effort that our guys play with is evident to me to the guys on our team," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Ahmad Brooks, down after down, he's just giving it everything he has. Same with Justin Smith."Looked up and down the defensive roster and you see them come off the field and they're just pouring everything out of their bucket. They're giving everything they've got."The Browns only points came on Phil Dawson's 52-yard field goal at the end of the first half and on McCoy's 45-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Cribbs with 6 minutes remaining.The 49ers are 6-1 for the first time since 1998, and their five-game win streak is the franchise's best since 2001.
"It feels good," said 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who recorded a team-high 11 tackles. "We just wanted to come into this game and pick up where we left off. A lot of teams are getting complacent after their bye weeks and we didn't want to be that team. We wanted to separate ourselves and I think we did that."Browns running back Peyton Hillis did not suit up for the game due to a hamstring injury. Montario Hardesty started but managed just 6 yards on two carries before leaving the game with a calf injury.Cleveland managed just 66 yards rushing on 23 carries, as the 49ers have now gone an NFL-best 29 games without allowing an individual to gain 100 yards on the ground against them.There were plenty of defensive highlights:--Brooks recorded two sacks in the game, including a strip of McCoy on the second play of the game. Isaac Sopoaga recovered the ball at the Cleveland 20-yard line, leading to the first touchdown of the game. Brooks did it all without his helmet."My helmet came off during the pass rush and I was just going to lay my shoulder on the quarterback and make sure he was down and maybe even strip the ball," Brooks said. "But right when I was going to do that, I saw Justin Smith somehow come into the play and I just ran into the quarterback head first."After the play, I was kind of dizzy. I was bleeding and leaking as if I just got into a fight and lost. But the thing thing about it is I got the sack. It was well worth it."--Rookie Aldon Smith recorded a sack for the fourth consecutive game. He has recorded each of his team-leading 6.5 sacks in those games. Smith already ranks third in franchise history for sacks from a rookie. Charles Haley had 12 sacks in 1986, and Dana Stubblefield recorded 10.5 sacks in 1993.--Outside linebacker Parys Haralson forced a fumble in the fourth quarter. He is tied for the NFL lead with three forced fumbles on the season.--Safety Dashon Goldson intercepted a McCoy pass in the end zone in the third quarter. It was his sixth career interception and his first since December of last season against the Seattle Seahawks.--Linebacker Patrick Willis recorded seven tackles and picked up his first sack of the season.