CLEVELAND (AP) — As a video tribute of his years with the Browns played on the stadium’s scoreboards, Phil Dawson patted his hand over his heart and choked back tears.
On his first trip back to Cleveland, the 49ers’ kicker struggled to contain his emotions.
San Francisco simply struggled.
Blaine Gabbert was sacked nine times and the lifeless 49ers failed to build on any momentum from last week’s road win and were rocked 24-10 by the lowly Browns, who ended a seven-game losing streak behind a solid performance by quarterback Johnny Manziel.
The 49ers (4-9) out-Browned the Browns.
San Francisco’s defense gave up 230 yards rushing to the Browns (3-10), who came in averaging an NFL-low 73.9 yards per game but opened massive holes in the 49ers’ front. Isaiah Crowell ran for 145 yards, getting 104 on a pair of runs and scoring two TDs.
After winning in Chicago last week, the 49ers seemed to think they could stroll into Cleveland and roll the Browns, who had lost 15 of their previous 17.
“Maybe we just came out a little flat,” linebacker Ahmad Brooks said. “It’s not an excuse. Maybe we took them for granted. Them having the record they had coming into today, maybe we did take them a little light. We got the win last week and maybe we got a little big-headed and thought things would happen. We won last week because everybody played hard.”
Brooks was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and had an exchange with Manziel, who passed for 270 yards and a touchdown in his return after being benched two games for off-field behavior.
Even when they had a chance to make a big play, the 49ers bungled it.
Linebacker Corey Lemonier could have sacked Manziel in the end zone for a safety, but he grabbed the QB’s facemask, giving the Browns a fresh set of downs.
“It just felt like we didn’t bother to show up and play,” said Niners left tackle Joe Staley.
Gabbert’s fifth start didn’t go very well. He was under constant pressure and took more than his share of hits as the Browns recorded the most sacks by any team in the league this season.
“I’m still standing here and breathing, so that’s a good thing,” Gabbert said. “It starts with me in the front. I have to do a better job, plain and simple.”
Gabbert finished 18 of 28 for 194 yards and threw a 6-yard TD pass to wide receiver Jerome Simpson with 1:42 left. Other than that, the 49ers were flat and flattened. At halftime, they had two first downs and were being outgained 255-48 in total yardage.
With the loss, the 49ers fell to 1-6 on the road.
The lone bright spot was Dawson’s return to the stadium he called home for 14 seasons. The 40-year-old kicked a 44-yard field goal and received a warm ovation from Browns fans after the video salute was shown in the first quarter.
Dawson wasn’t expecting to see highlights of his time with the Browns flashed on the giant scoreboards. And as the moments were replayed, Dawson was overcome with memories of a place he’ll always cherish.
“I’m trying not to break down on the sideline and zero in on kicking and paying attention to the wind,” he said. “I know what it means to me. When I’m an old man and my memory’s starting to fade, I just hope the good Lord allows me to always hold on to this one because it’s about as good as it gets.”
Crowell’s 1-yard run into the end zone gave the Browns a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Crowell’s 50-yard run — the longest by a Cleveland back all season — set up the early touchdown, which came after Travis Coons had his 42-yard field-goal attempt blocked by 49ers defensive tackle Quinton Dial.
It was the third straight game the Browns have allowed a blocked field goal, but Coons finally got one past the line of scrimmage in the second quarter, making a 26-yarder to put Cleveland ahead 10-0.
When Dawson lined up and booted his 44-yarder, even some Browns fans applauded him.
“Wow,” Dawson said when told of the fans’ reaction. “Better than missing one, I guess. It’s a special day. I’ll never forget it.”
NOTES: 49ers WR Anquan Boldin had two catches for 22 yards, becoming the first player league history to record 50 or more receptions and 600 yards in each of his first 13 seasons.