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Sporting News.com: 49ers at Redskins


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I am sorry if this has been posted already, but I did use the "search forum" and did not see this.


By War Room scouts

Why To Watch

This will be the second consecutive game in which 49ers rookie quarterback Alex Smith will be challenged by a swarming defense. The Redskins will be hungry to bounce back from consecutive losses and keep pace with the division-leading Cowboys in the NFC East.

Washington has gotten solid play from quarterback Mark Brunell, who has created excitement in the nation's capital with wide receiver Santana Moss as his deep threat. In addition, the strong running of Clinton Portis continues to provide balance.

The 49ers have struggled in every sense of the word, and in every aspect of the game. Tim Rattay was benched -- and now traded to Tampa Bay -- in favor of Smith, who must learn under fire. Running backs Kevan Barlow and Frank Gore try to support him, but the ground game is inconsistent. Brandon Lloyd is a talented No. 1 wide receiver, but Smith will be hard pressed to connect downfield with the pressure he will be facing.

49ers Keys For Success

1. Establish the running game with Barlow and Gore. Barlow is a potentially explosive back and a reliable receiver. Gore provides power and instincts, and if he can hold on to the ball can pose a challenge to defenses in short–yardage situations. Look for coaches to try to establish the running game to keep the pass rush at bay and give Smith time in the pocket.

2. Win at the line of scrimmage on defense. The team's 3-4 scheme is designed to allow linebackers to make plays. Left end Bryant Young, nose tackle Anthony Adams and right end Marques Douglas must occupy multiple blockers, leaving gaps open for inside linebackers Derek Smith and Brandon Moore, who must penetrate and make plays as close to the line of scrimmage as possible. If Smith and Rasheed can force plays to the outside, the Redskins offense will run into pressure from outside linebackers Julian Peterson and Andre Carter.

3. Take advantage of better punting and kicking. The 49ers have solid legs in punter Andy Lee and veteran kicker Joe Nedney, who is perfect on field-goal and extra-point attempts. If the 49ers can move the ball to the Redskins' 25, they can almost assure themselves three points. With stellar defensive play in a field-position battle, Nedney's perfect leg could result in a perfect upset.

Redskins Keys For Success

1. Brunell must protect the ball. If Brunell held on to his two fumbles that were recovered by the Chiefs, the team might have had a victory instead of a 28-21 loss. Brunell has played well, throwing for 1,240 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions, which has brought balance to the offense. However, he has lost three fumbles in the past two games, both losses. Against a team that has forced 11 turnovers in five games, he must protect the ball in the pocket, make his reads and get rid of the ball quickly.

2. Get pressure on Smith. Smith has all the tools to be a future star but like most rookies he needs time to develop. The Redskins have an impressive front seven that can overpower San Francisco's offensive line. Against a limited front five, Washington's pass-rush prowess should be on full display. Look for the defense to show multiple looks and formations and bring blitzes from various areas on the field in an effort to put pressure on the pocket and confuse Smith.

3. Get the deep ball to Moss. Moss has three 100-yard games and is averaging nearly 17 yards per catch. Cornerback Ahmed Plummer and free safety Mike Adams are big, but Moss’s double moves and quickness will have them looking at the back of his jersey. The 49ers will try to force Moss inside, where he will struggle when covered by more physical safeties. But if he gets a free release off the line, Moss will run his favored skinny post with great success.

Injuries at a glance

49ers injuries

Updated Player

Pos. Injury


10/20/05 Julian Peterson LB Hamstring Questionable for Week 7

10/19/05 Saleem Rasheed LB Knee surgery Out until Week 12

10/19/05 Arnaz Battle WR Knee Likely out till Week

9/29/05 Ahmed Plummer CB Left ankle bone chip Out until early or mid-November

9/22/05 Eric Johnson TE Foot On injured reserve

Redskins injuries

Updated Player

Pos. Injury


10/20/05 Mark Brunell QB Calf Probable for Week 7

10/20/05 Ladell Betts RB Groin Probable for Week 7

10/20/05 John Hall K Groin Probable for Week 7

10/20/05 Shawn Springs CB Shin Probable for Week 7

10/19/05 Clinton Portis RB Calf Probable for Week 7

9/22/05 Brandon Noble DT Knee

» Full injury report

The Bottom Line

This game should be a blowout by halftime. The Redskins' defense is dominant, and will put excessive pressure on Smith. The balance created by the Brunell-Moss connection and Portis' running will spread San Francisco's defense too thin for the 49ers to stay competitive for long.

Pick: Redskins 24, 49ers 3

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