"Looking at the Surface I saw that they dropped, (tight end) Gary (Barnidge) wide open. To get a touchdown there before the half on a busted coverage, you have to make them pay on things like that. That doesn't happen all the time in the NFL," Manziel said. "I was more upset knowing that we're going to be watching that on film tomorrow and watching Gary run right down the middle of the field wide open."
The interception, which landed in the arms of Niners safety Jaquiski Tartt, was one of Manziel's few blatant gaffes on a day that saw him guide the Browns to their first win since Week 5. Completing 21 of 31 passes for 270 yards at 8.7 yards per throw, Johnny spread the ball to six different targets and looked comfortable running the scheme.
More importantly, Sunday served as another building block for a young quarterback who's bounced in and out of the lineup -- and the doghouse -- in Cleveland.
"Every time I've been behind center and gotten a chance to make another start, I feel more confident," Manziel said. "I feel that I'm able to go through my reads. I'm able to slow down all the protection stuff and make sure we have a guy on a guy and able to sit back there and know you're protected. For me personally, it's continue to try and progress."
Beating the Niners is one thing, but Johnny will be tested in remaining tilts against the Seahawks, Chiefs and Steelers. For a team with so little to cling to, a strong finish by Manziel would give this lost campaign a different glow. It was hopeful to see the young passer roaming up and down the sideline encouraging his teammates from wire to wire.
"That guy's a baller," said wideout Travis Benjamin, while safety Donte Whitner talked about watching a young signal-caller develop before his eyes, saying: "He's becoming what a lot of people don't want to see him become and that's a true quarterback. He's throwing the football from the pocket, but he can also break out of there and throw the football, so I want to continue to see Johnny continue to get better and better and I want to see him lead this offense and lead this football team. There are some people that are skeptical, some people that probably don't want to see that, but I do."
In long-lost Cleveland, Whitner isn't alone.