Front four reviving 49ers’ pass rush

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monday’s GAME

Browns (2-2) at 49ers (3-0)

Time: 5:15 p.m. TV: ESPN Radio: 680 AM, 107.7 FM

SANTA CLARA — Dee Ford’s simplified job is to line up on the edge and aim for the quarterback. With a lingering knee issue, it’s a good thing he’s not the 49ers’ only hope on a suddenly riveting defensive line.

“It’s fun to look (down) the line of scrimmage and know that somebody is going to get there,” Ford said.

The 49ers are nine sacks and three undefeated games into their pass-rush revival. There is no doubt what front four presents their most menacing pass rush: newcomers Ford and Nick Bosa on the edges, bracketing DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead.

Each of the four has a sack from that lineup. It’s not all about sacks. When Armstead forced a running back’s fumble late last game, Buckner recovered to set up Jimmy Garoppolo’s winning touchdown pass over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“They’re the best front that we’ve faced this year,” Cleveland Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said.

That defensive front represents the best chance at the 49ers (3-0) staying unbeaten when the Browns (2-2) visit Levi’s Stadium on Monday night.

“They’re very long, big guys that play with quickness and play hard,” Kitchens added. “I mean, they’ve got I don’t know how many first-rounders they’ve got up there, but there are a lot, and they’re up there for a reason.”

The aforementioned four 49ers all entered the NFL as first-round draft picks, and 2017 No. 3 overall pick Solomon Thomas is part of what Kitchens acknowledged is a “very deep” bench, also including Ronald Blair, D.J. Jones, Sheldon Day and Jullian Taylor.

Among those impressed is Greg Cosell, a long-time analyst for NFL Films and “NFL Matchup” on ESPN.

“They’re going to have a really good front four as the season progress, and they’re going to have a really good defensive front overall counting linebackers as the season progresses,” Cosell said. “It will be a top-five group in the league.”

Until now, a menacing front four had been missing from the 49ers’ repertoire since their 2011-13 playoff runs. Now, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Nick Chubb are in the 49ers’ crosshairs.

monday’s GAME

Browns (2-2) at 49ers (3-0)

Time: 5:15 p.m. TV: ESPN Radio: 680 AM, 107.7 FM

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