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Opponent Profile: 49ers Host The Redskins Team That Is Struggling But Still Dangerous

By Jerrell Richardson

Washington Redskins (3-7)

Head Coach: Jay Gruden

Players To Watch: Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Desean Jackson, Keenan Robinson, Ryan Kerrigan

For the second straight week the 49ers face a team that is reeling, but certainly not a team they can underestimate. A big reason San Francisco needs to bring their A game is that this week’s opponent, Washington is not a team void of playmakers. In fact the Redskins struggles are similar to the 49ers this year where the talent on the field has not always matched the play and record.

However, it’s hard to overlook the Redskins most recent performance, a 27-7 loss to Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers, are easily one of the worst teams in the NFL this season, so Washington doesn’t figure to get off the snide this week, which means San Francisco has an excellent chance of winning their 3rd straight contest.

When Washington Has The Ball: Advantage 49ers

With their number one overall pick, Robert Griffin III not playing well, understandably the Redskins offense has struggled. They have put up big numbers throwing the ball, but have been mediocre running it, and outside of week 9 (a loss), Washington has not have not scored over 20 points since week 2 with Kirk Cousins running the show. Assuming that it will be Griffin under center this week, the 49er defense should be able to keep the Washington offense under wraps.

Washington will try and establish the run with Alfred Morris, but he too has not been the player he was his rookie season, and going against the 6th ranked San Francisco rush defense. 49ers rookie linebacker Chris Borland has stood out with his play in recent weeks and will again lead the charge this week as the San Francisco defense will try and bottle up Morris, forcing the now one dimensional Griffin to beat them from within the pocket.

As a team Washington has put up good numbers throwing the ball. They enter this game with the 7th best aerial attack, but this is misleading. Their numbers are a more of a result of a lack of a running game and them being behind on the scoreboard and being forced to throw. Griffin does have a cannon for an arm though and in wide receiver Desean Jackson is a deep threat that the 49er secondary must keep an eye on at all times. San Francisco has the 4th ranked pass defense though, and has played well against several high powered offense this season, so figure to be able to do the same this week.

When San Francisco Has The Ball: Advantage 49ers

When they have decided to run the ball the 49ers have had success and figure to do the same against Washington. Frank Gore leads a 49er ground game that is averaging 124.8 yards per game this season against a defense that is allowing 104.2 yards per game. As long as the score allows them to run the ball, San Francisco should be able to eclipse the 100 yard mark easily as a team, which will take the pressure off the still progressing 49er passing game.

With their ability to run the ball, Colin Kaepernick and the passing game has been able slowly get more comfortable this season. The 49ers are averaging 221.7 yards throwing the ball in 2014, which doesn’t wow you, but is modest, especially for a team that prides itself in running the ball. San Francisco should be able to at least meet their average, as the Redskins are allowing 222.9 passing yards per game.

The two Redskins who will need to have big days to slow down the 49ers offense will be Keenan Robinson and Ryan Kerrigan. Linebacker Robinson does it all defensively, leading the team in tackles by a large margin, and is tied for the team lead in interceptions, and will be responsible for the middle of the field where the 49ers will look to do most of their damage. The other player the 49ers offense has to keep an eye on his Kerrigan who is his team’s best pass rushing threat. While Robinson will be responsible for the run and the middle of the field, Kerrigan will be the one putting pressure on Kaepernick and the passing game.  

49ers Keeping Momentum

After his electrifying rookie season, the assumption is that sooner or later Robert Griffin III will return to that form, but the bottom line is that he is not there health wise. He has weapons around him though and can still deliver the ball accurately so the 49er defense can’t underestimate them. The San Francisco defense has been their best unit this season, and figure to be up to the task again this week. The Redskins defense has played better as of a late, but offensively San Francisco should be able to do just enough to edge the Redskins and keep their playoff dreams intact.

For more 49ers news and updates, visit 49ers Central.

Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. Jerrell is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on

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