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Friday, October 28, 2011
Scout's take: 49ers vs. Joe Thomas

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. breaks down the San Francisco 49ers' game against the Cleveland Browns from just about every angle in his Insider scouting report.

I followed up with him on the phone Friday for thoughts on matchups involving the two best players on the field Sunday: Browns left tackle Joe Thomas and 49ers defensive end Justin Smith. Williamson ranks Smith among the 10 best players in the NFL regardless of position. He ranks Thomas among the top 50.

Matt Williamson: Thomas is playing really well -- not as well as he has in the past, but he's in the conversation for best left tackle. He is a great left tackle without any weaknesses. There is no certain type of player Thomas does well against. He does well against everybody, but so does Justin Smith.

Mike Sando: What should we expect Sunday?

Matt Williamson: Smith is a better player than Thomas, a top 10 guy. But the 49ers' front looks like a 5-2 on early downs and Thomas will be blocking the outside linebacker, which is exactly what San Francisco wants. If the 49ers can get Ray McDonald and Smith on either one of the Browns' guards, they are going to torment them. This will not be like Dwight Freeney against Joe Thomas all game because Smith moves around.

Mike Sando: Sounds like this could be a quieter game for 49ers rookie outside linebacker Aldon Smith, assuming Smith winds up matched against Thomas a fair amount.

Matt Williamson: Thomas against any of their outside linebackers has a distinct advantage, and I like the 49ers' outside linebackers. Great left tackles rarely get beat. I could see this not being a big Aldon Smith game. The 49ers' speed should give Tony Pashos some problems at right tackle, though. Pashos is a heavier footed mauler type. He will do better against McDonald than any of the edge players there.

Mike Sando: What's your take on the game overall?

Matt Williamson: Cleveland's offense is so inept. I don't know that San Francisco is going to beat them 30-0, though. It's probably going to be closer even though San Francisco will control the whole game, most likely. Colt McCoy's yards per attempt are about the worst in the league (only Kerry Collins is worse in this category). The Browns have no vertical dimension to their offense.