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Browns-49ers matchup of the day: Friday

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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening

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Posted Oct. 28, 2011 @ 1:52 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Browns-49ers game.

Browns wide receivers vs. 49ers secondary

The Niners have surrendered more than 400 yards passing twice this season. Cowboys QB Tony Romo riddled the San Francisco pass defense in Dallas' remarkable comeback win in Week Two, and Eagles QB Michael Vick threw for 416 yards in a losing effort vs. San Francisco in Week Four. 

But those performances alone don't define this pass defense, which has some rather talented performers. The headliner of the group is CB Carlos Rogers, who is having a very good first season in San Francisco. Rogers already has three interceptions, a career-high.

The secondary is also getting a key contribution from rookie reserve CB Chris Culliver, who frequently plays in the Niners' nickel package. Culliver, who has been credited with four passes defensed in six games, has one interception. The 49ers' other starting cornerback, Tarell Brown, has been serviceable.

The 49ers are solid at safety. FS DaShon Goldson has returned has returned to form, another positive for a defense that has impressed early this season. Donte Whitner, who had 140 tackles a season ago for Buffalo, is the strong safety. Veteran Madieu Williams adds capable depth behind the starters.

Greg Little and Joshua Cribbs are likely to be the primary wideouts for Cleveland on Sunday with Mohamed Massaquoi suffering a concussion in the Week Seven win vs. Seattle. Little and Cribbs are physical, athletic receivers who fit the Browns' short-passing scheme well.

Beyond Little and Cribbs, the Browns likely will have Carlton Mitchell, Brian Robiskie and Jordan Norwood in reserve. The 6-3, 215-pound Mitchell is the wild card; he has played in one game this season, but he gained 17.6 yards per catch in his final season at South Florida in 2009, and this is a passing game that hasn't stretched the field much this season.

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