Game Preview, Week 6: 49ers at Redskins

by Steve Thomas and Sean Conte

San Francisco 49ers versus the Washington Redskins.  At one point in time, this would have been a titanic battle against two Super Bowl dynasty teams led by hall of fame coaches and players.  This game…..isn’t that.  What it is, though, is a game that our beloved Redskins quite simply must win if they intend on competing for a playoff spot this season.  Playoff teams don’t lose to 0 – 5 teams from their own conference that had to take a 5 hour plane ride east in order to play.  The 49ers have actually been competitive in 4 of 5 games they’ve played, including two overtime contests, but still – the Redskins really, really, need to not lose on Sunday, some how, some way, come hell or high water, by hook or by crook – feel free to use whatever corny saying you enjoy most.  The 49ers aren’t pushovers, but truly, though, this matchup is one in which the Redskins should have many advantages & should be able to pull out absent the team simply laying an egg or having something bizarre happen.  What are the important details, you may ask?  Read on to find out.

Game time & location:          Sunday, October 15, 1:00 p.m. ET, Fed Ex Field, Raljon, MD; Gates open 11:00 a.m. ET;                                                         Red Zone parking lots open 8:00 a.m.; all other parking lots 9:00 a.m.

Television:                              Fox

Television announcers:        Kenny Albert, John Lynch


DC-area radio:                      ESPN 980

Redskins radio network:

49ers radio network: 


Satellite radio:                         XM: 83 (Redskins broad.); Sirius: 83 (Redskins                                                                                                                                  broad.); internet: 831 (Redskins broad.)


Redskins roster:            

Redskins depth chart:   

49ers roster:                   

49ers depth chart:        


All-time head-to-head record vs 49ers: 9 – 17 – 1 (last 10: 3 – 7)

Last meeting:  L, Nov 23, 2014, 13 – 17


Early odds: Redskins, -10


Don’t Sleep on Them

It’s easy to sell San Francisco short right now; at 0-5, the Niners aren’t exactly inspiring fear. But all isn’t what it seems. Two of those losses came in overtime, one off of 51 yard Adam Vinatieri field goal. Three losses were by 3 points or less. Hoyer’s had an up-and-down sort of year, but he did a lot of heating up last week, going for 350+ yards and two scores. Distressingly, their offense is ranked above ours in total yards and and passing yards (though not in points; okay, yes, they’ve played one more game than the Redskins have, but still, it doesn’t make me feel good). Why do I feel like this will be harder than it should be?

Remember Those Guys?

We know what Pierre Garcon can do. Aldrick Robinson and Logan Paulsen are around too. And let’s not forget newly-minted head coach Kyle Shanahan. Come to think of it, I’m starting to feel very at-home reading the 49ers depth chart. Hopefully Jay can use that to his advantage in this week’s game-planning.

This Could Be a Defensive Shutout….

Washington’s defense shot up the rankings after a solid performance against top-ranked Kansas City. San Francisco seems to have trouble scoring. That’s not a great combo for them. It’s true that Kyle Shanahan has kept the team in some close battles this season, but it’s worth noting that he’s done it against several bottom-ranked defensive squads, including the Rams, Cardinals, and Colts. We’ll be one of their tougher defensive matchups so far this year. They should be concerned.

Cousins and Pryor Need to Make the Best of Their Opportunities

The San Fran pass-defense is all kinds of stinky; they’re averaging about 250 yards + a game and are ranked way down at 28th heading into this week’s matchup against Washington. Pryor and Cousins have struggled to get on the same page this year, though thankfully plenty of others have stood up. This might just be their opportunity to go ham, so long as Jay’s willing to open up the playbook a bit for Terrelle Pryor and Kirk serves him up the requisite targets. Just watch out for the guys up front.

Watch the Front Seven

San Francisco’s pass-rush and run-defense has been underwhelming this year, but let’s not forget they were ranked dead last a year ago. This unit is much improved. In fact, considering the lack of attention right now around the under-performing team, most people would probably be surprised to hear that DeForest Buckner, Elvis Dumerville, Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas are all on this team. Ray-Ray Armstrong has snagged a few INTs this year. Defensively, those are the names most likely to give us trouble.


Carlos Hyde vs. Redskins Rush D

Carlos Hyde traditionally does the heavy lifting on the ground for this team. He’s a threat for sure. But he’s a little banged up and suffering from an increased amount of snaps for fellow RB Matt Breida. Keep an eye on them both.

Garcon and Goodwin vs. Washington DBs

Despite not logging a single TD between them, these two receivers have logged well over 600 yards together this season. Goodwin’s 249 yards are better than our top-receiver’s (Chris Thompson) 235. As I said, this team can move the ball. Let’s prevent them from doing that by playing these two guys smart.

Kyle Shanahan vs. Greg Manusky

Maybe it’s not fair to call this a matchup. We know Kyle Shanahan can run a productive offense, but right now they’re banged up, lack depth, and don’t match up well to our strengths. I don’t know if there’s much Kyle can do in this one, not with a so-so offensive line that seems to give up pressure as easily as we’ve been providing it.


The Redskins win this one, despite stalling out for at least a quarter and giving San Francisco plenty of chances to come back. Hoyer spends much of the game curled up in the grass grimacing at the hit he just took. Redskins 24 – 10.

OFFICIAL INJURY REPORT (as of Friday (active roster only)) (starters in bold)

LP – limited practice                           FP – full practice                     DNP – did not practice

NIR – not injury related                      Q – questionable                      O – out

Redskins 49ers
LB Z. Brown, illness; Wed: DNP; Thurs: FP; Fri: FP LB N.  Bowman, NIR; Wed: DNP; Thurs: FP; released
S D. Everett, hamstring; Wed: DNP; Thurs: DNP; Fri: DNP; game: doubtful WR P. Garcon, NIR; Wed: DNP; Thurs: FP; Fri: FP
RB R. Kelley, ankle; Wed: DNP; Thurs: DNP; Fri: DNP; game: doubtful T J. Staley, NIR; Wed: DNP; Thurs: FP; Fri: FP
CB J. Norman, rib; Wed: DNP; Thurs: DNP; Fri: DNP; game: O LB R. Armstrong, shoulder; Wed: LP; Thurs: LP; Fri: FP
T T. Nsekhe, core muscle; Wed: DNP; Thurs: DNP; Fri: DNP; game: O S A. Colbert, hamstring; Wed: LP; Thurs: LP; Fri: LP; game: Q
T T Williams, knee; Wed: DNP; Thurs: DNP; ; Fri: DNP; game: Q LB R. Foster, ankle; Wed: LP; Thurs: LP; Fri: LP; game: Q
S D.J. Swearinger, hamstring; Wed: LP; Thurs: LP; Fri: FP DT D.J. Jones, back; Wed: LP; Thurs: FP; Fri: FP
WR J. Doctson, shoulder; Wed: FP; Thurs: FP; Fri: FP FB K. Juszczk, back; Wed: LP; Thurs: DNP; Fri: DNP; game: O
LB M. Foster, shoulder; Wed: FP; Thurs: FP; Fri: FP TE G. Kittle, chest; Wed: LP; Thurs: LP; Fri: FP
S M. Nicholson, shoulder; Wed: FP: Thurs: FP; Fri: FP DT E. Mitchell, knee; Wed: LP; Thurs: LP; Fri: FP
S E. Reid, knee; Wed: LP; Thurs: LP; Fri: LP; game; Q
S J. Ward, shoulder; Wed: LP; Thurs: LP; Fri: FP
LB D. Watson, groin; Wed: LP; Thurs: LP; Fri: LP; game: Q
CB A. Witherspoon, concussion; Wed: LP; Thurs: LP; Fri: LP; game: Q




For those of you interested in team statistics (which is no doubt why you’ve read this far) this  particular game is one in which you should basically ignore the cumulating numbers, because the Redskins are one of only 6 of the 32 teams that have played just 4 games instead of 5.  Therefore, the trending data and the raw cumulating stats are not a representative sample of how the Redskins rank amongst their peers.  What is relevant, though, are passing yards per attempt (5th) and rushing yards per attempt (6th) – both quality rankings for a team that only has a 2 – 2 record.  On the negative side is the Redskins third down conversion rate (ranked 19th) and red zone efficiency (ranked 30th), both of which being problems that have plagued the Redskins seemingly for approximately 182 years in a row and counting.  Quarterback Kirk Cousins has more or less righted the statistical ship, now boasting a 66.1% completion percentage (9th) and a quarterback rating of 107.6 (4th).  Rushing by backs not named Chris Thompson, Robert Kelley, or Mack Brown has been a problem; Samaje Perine has taken his big chance to serve as feature back and gained a poor 3.1 yards per attempt, with a couple of turnovers to go along for the ride.

Please pay just as little attention to the cumulating defensive numbers as well, as they are just as irrelevant as the offensive numbers as a result of the Redskins’ early bye week this year.  What we can look at are yards per play (18th), yards per passing attempt (19th), and yards per rush (13th), all of which appear to be mediocre, but also represent improvements over last year’s sad defensive showing.  Also, Redskins opponents have converted 42.0% of their third down attempts, which is ranked 21st – not “good”, but also not terrible, either.

Record 2 – 2 (NFC: 1 – 1; Home: 1 – 1; 2nd, tied)

All-time franchise record: 588 – 574 – 28


Offensive rankings 22 (points) (trend -9) / 26 (total yards) (trend -18) / 8 (yards per game) (trend even) / 6 (yards per play) (trend +2) / 25 (passing yards) (trend -14) / 5 (passing yards per att.) (trend +1)  / 15 (rushing yards) (trend -9) / 6 (rushing yards per att.) (trend +1)
Points for 91
Yards per game 363.0


121 att (32nd); 80 comp; 66.1% comp per. (9th); 8.1 Y/A; 932 net yds; 7 TD; 1 Int
       Passing leader Cousins (121 att, 1004 yds (21st), 66.1% comp perc., 7 TDs / 1 Int (18th), 107.6 QB rating (4th))
      Receiving leader Thompson (235 yds (47th), 14 rec (93rd), 2 TDs, 17.8 Y/C); Crowder (106 yds, 14 rec (93rd), 0 TDs, 16.8 Y/C (10th)); Reed (105 yds, 14 rec (93rd), 0 TDs, 7.5 Y/C)
Rushing 116 att (22nd); 520 yds; 4.5 Y/A; 130.0 Y/G; 2 TD
      Rushing leader Perine (46 att (27th), 143 yds, 0 TD, 3.1 Y/A (39th), long 12)
Sacks surrendered / rank 7 / 5
Ave time of possession / rank 30:45 / 9
3rd down conversion rate / rank 38.0% / 19
TD percentage in red zone / rank 36.36% / 30



Defensive rankings 11 (points) (trend -1) / 3 (total yards) (trend +4) / 9 (yards per game surrendered) (trend -4) / 18 (yards per play) (trend -6) / 5 (passing yards) (trend +8) / 19 (passing yards per att.) (trend -4) / 5 (rushing yards) (trend -1 / 13 (rushing yards per att.)  (trend -6)
Points against 89
Yards per game surrendered 311.2
Opponent’s passing 132 att (1st); 87 comp; 65.9% comp perc. (24th); 7.4 Y/A; 902 net yds; 5 TDs; QB Rating 87.5 (11th)
Opponent’s rushing  90 att (4th); 355 yds; 3.9 Y/A; 2 TD; 88.8 Y/G (10th)
Sacks / rank / Sack leader 12/ 12 / Smith (4.0)
Tackles leader Brown (25)
Int / rank / Int leader 4 / 10 / Foster/Fuller/Kerrigan/Nicholson (1)
Opponent 3rd down conv rate / rank 42.0% / 21
Opponent TD percentage in red zone / rank 54.55% / 18


Special Teams

Kick returns 18.6 Y/R (28th), 5 returns, long 24 yards, 0 TDs
Punt returns 4.9 Y/R (27th), 8 returns, long 18 yards (15th), 0 TD
Kick return defense 19.6 Y/R (7th), 7 returns, 0 TD
Punt return defense 4.0 Y/R (6th), 7 returns, 0 TD
Punting 44.5 Y/P (22nd)


Turnovers (lost by O / recv’d by D / net / rank): 7 / 7 / 0 / 13

Penalties (total accepted # / rank): 23 / 2


The San Francisco 49ers offense represents, first and foremost, inefficiency.  It is ranked 17th in total yards but only 24th in points.  It is 26th in red zone efficiency.  Quarterback Brian Hoyer has thrown 194 passes, which is 7th-most in the NFL, but has only completed 59.3% of those passes and boasted a quarterback rating of only 75.8 (28th).  Their two brightest spots are former Redskin Pierre Garcon, who has done fairly well in spite of Hoyer, and Carlos Hyde, a man who is inexplicably losing carries to Matt Breida despite averaging 4.5 yards per carry to Brieda’s 4.0 yards per carry.  These numbers tell us that this offense will continue to fight, and might see some success on the ground, but ultimately most likely won’t be able to score a large number of points.

The 49ers defense could be characterized as “bad”, but not “terrible”.  They are ranked 22nd in points surrendered but 30th in total yards surrendered.  They have given up lots of passing yards (28th) and a decent amount of rushing yards (19th), but are actually fairly good in limiting the rushing damage (8th in the NFL in yards per attempt).  They are atrocious on third down defense, with opponents converting 47.31% (which is ranked 31st), but also ranked 6th in the red zone – which seem to be two somewhat contradictory stats.  This is a defense that has a few bright spots, but is also one against whom the Redskins should be able to score at a fairly healthy rate.

Record: 0 – 5 (Away: 0 – 3; NFC: 0 – 4; 4th)


Offensive rankings 24 (points) / 17 (total yards) / 22 (yards per game) / 24 (yards per play) / 17 (passing yards) / 27 (passing yards per att.) / 20 (rushing yards) / 14 (rushing yards per att.)
Points for 89
Yards per game 318.6
Passing 194 att (7th); 115 comp; 59.3% comp per. (29th); 6.2 Y/A; 1009 net yds; 4 TDs; 4 Int
      Passing leader Hoyer (194 att, 1211 yds (13th), 59.3% comp per., 4 TDs / 4 Int, 75.8 QB rating (28th))
      Reception leader Garcon (379 yds (8th), 28 rec (11th), 0 TD, 13.5 Y/C)
Rushing 116 att (22nd); 484 yds; 4.2 Y/A; 96.8 Y/G (20th); 3 TDs
      Rushing leader Hyde (73 att (15th), 332 yds (7th), 2 TDs, 4.5 Y/A (11th), long 61 yds)
Sacks surrendered / rank 15 / 21
Ave time of possession / rank 26:45 / 32
3rd down conversion rate / rank 29.7% / 31
TD percentage in red zone / rank 43.75% / 26



Defensive rankings 22 (points) / 30 (total yards) / 28 (yards per game surrendered) / 13 (yards per play) / 28 (passing yards) / 23 (passing yards per att.) / 19 (rushing yards) / 8 (rushing yards per att.)
Points against 120
Yards per game surrendered 366.4
Opponent’s passing 177 att (23rd); 114 comp; 64.4% comp per. (18th); 7.5 Y/A; 1249 net yds; 7 TD; QB Rating 93.2 (17th)
Opponent’s rushing 164 att (32); 583 yds; 3.6 Y/A; 4 TD
Sacks / rank / Sack leader 13 / 9 / Dumervil (3.5)
Tackles leader Armstrong (26)
Int / rank / Int leader 3 / 19 / Armstrong (2)
Opponent 3rd down conv rate / rank 47.37%/ 31
Opponent TD percentage in red zone / rank 42.86% / 6


Special Teams

Kick returns 20.2 Y/R (22nd), 13 returns, long 34 yards, 0 TDs
Punt returns 9.0 Y/R (12th), 11 returns, long 21 yards (15th), 0 TDs
Kick return defense 25.8 Y/R (29th), 5 returns, 0 TDs
Punt return defense 1.4 Y/R (1st), 13 returns, 0 TDs
Punting 45.3 Y/P (19th)


Turnovers (lost by O / recv’d by D / net / rank): 6 / 6 / 0 / 13

Penalties (total accepted # / rank): 49 / 32


* Statistics courtesy of,,,,,