SANTA CLARA -- Whether the 49ers were looking past the Cleveland Browns is open for argument, but Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is determined for his team to leave no room for debate Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.
“We don’t draw conclusions here,” Lewis said Wednesday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “We put our heads down and go to work.”
The Bengals are 10-3 and lead the AFC North by two games over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Two weeks ago, the Bengals went to Cleveland and left no doubt with a 37-3 victory. The 49ers (4-9) visited Cleveland a week later and were soundly beaten, 24-10, against a team that had lost seven consecutive games.
How bad was it for the 49ers? Joe Staley and Ahmad Brooks agreed the 49ers got a little too full of themselves and might have overlooked the Browns, who entered the game with a league-worst 2-10 record. Coach Jim Tomsula disagreed with his players.
But on Wednesday, Browns coach Mike Pettine clearly sided with Staley and Brooks. Pettine said the Browns came out against the 49ers wanting to fight, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
“Wasn't sure I sensed the same attitude from the other side,” Pettine said of the 49ers' effort.
Lewis said the Bengals’ approach to Sunday’s game will be not be influenced by the 49ers’ win-loss record.
“Our football team has been in situations like this,” Lewis said. “We understand what’s at stake for us. We have to handle our business. We have to do our thing, which is play sound football in all three phases. That’s what we preach every week. I don’t care what’s going on or what we’re doing, we have to do it the way we’re coached to do it, time-in and time-out.”
Lewis, who has coached the Bengals since 2003, has gone up against Eric Mangini defenses in the past. Mangini coached in the AFC North with the Browns in 2009 and ’10.
“The 49ers have a lot of good players on that defensive football team,” Lewis said. “We have to understand that, and we have to play really sound football on offense this week.
“They’re doing a good job of applying pressure on the quarterback. They are going to work and try to take away what they feel are your strengths and try to exploit what they feel is a weakness of your offensive group."
The 49ers are 3-3 at home and have not given up more than 20 points in any of those games. The Bengals rank fourth in the NFL, averaging 27.2 points per game, though they will be lining up with backup quarterback AJ McCarron in place of Andy Dalton, who his out with a fractured thumb on his throwing hand.
“They have been very good at home,” Lewis said of the 49ers. “They’ve played very, very well. And so we have to understand that. Our guys were made well aware of those things this morning. And the things they’ve been doing statistically at home. That’s why I say we have to play sound, physical football and know we’re going to be in for a tough, physical football game that we have to grind to have an opportunity to be successful in.”