Browns Make Final Call on Deshaun Watson’s Status vs. 49ers

Deshaun Watson, Browns

Getty Quarterback Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns.

The Cleveland Browns will take on the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday without the help of starting quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Josina Anderson of CBS Sports reported via X on Thursday, October 12, that Watson will remain sidelined with a bruised rotator cuff. He the injury suffered three weeks ago during a win over the Tennessee Titans.

“I’m told the #Browns QB Deshaun Watson will not play Sunday vs. the 5-0 #49ers, per source,” Anderson wrote.

P.J. Walker Poised to Start for Browns Against 49ers

P.J. Walker, Browns

GettyQuarterback P. J. Walker of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to an NFL game against the Baltimore Ravens in October 2023.

With Watson sidelined, Cleveland is set to turn to former third-string quarterback P.J. Walker.

Brad Stainbrook of OBR reported on Tuesday that the Browns now favor Walker over rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Thompson-Robinson started in Watson’s stead against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4. He completed just 52.8% of his passes for 121 yards and 3 interceptions.

The Chicago Bears signed Walker to a two-year deal in March before cutting him in August after multiple poor preseason performances. Walker spent his first three years in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers. He earned a record of 4-3 as a starter and threw for 1,461 yards, 5 touchdowns and 11 interceptions over 15 total appearances.

Walker will speak with reporters on Friday during the team’s media availability. The Browns are likely to officially announce then that he will be the starter against San Francisco.

Loss of Deshaun Watson Critical to Browns’ Chances to Beat 49ers

GettyQuarterback Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns will miss his second straight game with a shoulder injury.

With Watson out, Cleveland’s defense will have to come up larger than it has all season.

The Browns have surrendered just 14.75 points per game to opponents this year. Meanwhile, the 49ers have scored 30 or more points in all five of their contests in 2023.

San Francisco is as good on defense as it is on offense, surrendering just 13.6 points per game. Cleveland’s offense has only put up 19 points per game, including just 3 points against the Ravens in the one game Watson didn’t start.

The hope in Cleveland was that the bye week would provide Watson with enough time to get back to the form he found against the Titans. The quarterback completed 27-of-33 passes for 289 yards and 2 touchdowns. As a result, the Browns achieved their highest offensive output of the season with 27 points.

Clearly the coaching staff believes Walker gives the team a better chance to score than Thompson-Robinson. However, the notion of a practice squad QB piling up points against the overwhelming San Francisco defense is a hard one to stomach. The loss of Nick Chubb to a season-ending knee injury in Week 2 and offensive line issues don’t bode well either.

The weather forecast calls for a chance of rain and 15mph gusts on Sunday, which could play into the Browns’ hands. Still, 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey is an MVP candidate this season. As such, Cleveland will need to shut him down to have a legitimate chance of pulling off a victory.

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