Jump to content
Washington Football Team Logo

ESPN Insider: Take 2: 49ers vs. Redskins


Recommended Posts

Take 2: 49ers vs. Redskins

By Scouts, Inc.


San Francisco at Washington Matchups


With the recent trade of Tim Rattay, it's now very clear the 49ers are Alex Smith's team. In Smith's first game as a starter, he struggled mightily against a very fast and opportunistic Colts defense; he was intercepted four times and fumbled once in a rout. The 49ers had a bye last week, and the extremely intelligent Smith surely spent extra time studying film of the Redskins' defense and should be more confident when he arrives in Washington.

Smith has a chance to be a very solid NFL quarterback because of his playmaking ability, work ethic, intelligence and above-average athleticism for the position. The 49ers coaching staff would be wise to get Smith out of the pocket on rollouts to his right more often to use his feet to their advantage and limit the hits he takes behind a young and banged up offensive line.

• Mark Brunell looks like a different quarterback than last season. Watching last year's film on Brunell, it didn't take long to come to the conclusion that he had little arm strength left and was nearing the end of an excellent career. That simply isn't true any longer. Although he does not have a premier arm, he is able to deliver the ball well enough to receivers along the sideline on the wide side of the field or deep down the field. He is playing well within himself and leading an offense that, before last week, didn't hurt itself with turnovers. As long as Brunell manages the game and takes what the defense gives him -- as he has most of the season -- Washington will be in good shape.

• San Francisco does not have an answer for WR Santana Moss, who has re-established himself as an elite playmaker and is as fast and explosive as any player in the league. Second year CB Shawntae Spencer is a tall corner with good speed who has flashed ability. He eventually will be a fine starting corner, but he is overmatched in this game against the ultra-quick Moss, who will force him to make decisions very quickly. Spencer is sure to misread a route that will have dangerous implications.

As a taller, long-limbed corner, he lacks the pure quickness to hang with Moss. Spencer must keep Moss in front of him, give up the underneath routes and make sure of physical tackles on the smaller receiver who is excellent after the catch.

• With the exception of OC Jeremy Newberry, San Francisco's offensive line is very young and is being built the right way. This group has a lot of potential, but right now there is very little continuity. Not only are they young, they also haven't played together long enough to develop consistency in their timing and recognition as a unit. This season is the learning period for the group, and every opponent will attack it with a variety of stunts, slants and blitz schemes.

Washington will be no different, and although their defensive line does not have elite playmakers or pass rushers, they are very solid -- especially against the run. Washington's defensive ends are big and very stout against the run but do not present major edge rush problems for this young group.

• Because of Washington's anemic pass rush (only five sacks in five games) and all of the eight-man fronts Washington will be playing to challenge QB Smith to beat them, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will show a wide variety of pass-rush packages. Washington's defensive line is a space-eating, powerful group that will get a push and shrink the pocket, but the true pressure will come from blitzers, LB Marcus Washington in particular. Recognition of these blitzes by Smith and his offensive line will be key if San Francisco is going to have any success throwing the football in Washington.

• San Francisco will not be able to get its receivers deep down the field. This is true for two reasons. First, the 49ers receivers lack the pure speed to run by Washington's corners and, with the exception of Brandon Lloyd, are not an explosive unit. Second, with such poor speed in the group and with Smith facing a blitzing Washington defense, there likely will be little time to get the ball deep. The 49ers will struggle to keep the defense honest without a threat of deep passing game. Of all of San Francisco's woes, this could be the biggest weakness that needs to be addressed this offseason. Finding a deep playmaker is a must.

• Washington has shown impressive run/pass balance on offense this season. The 49ers have been decent defending the run, and their front seven is formidable, but it lacks depth and stamina. Washington can wear this front out if it sticks with the running game and complements it by taking shots downfield to Moss.

NT Anthony Adams is quick and explosive but very undersized for a 3-4 NT. Bryant Young has been outstanding this season, especially as a pass rusher, but his age is clearly a factor when forced to play a high number of snaps. There is little depth behind these two. The 49ers ILB situation is even more disturbing. Due to injury, Brandon Moore is likely to start in place of Jeff Ulbrich and Saleem Rasheed, who was injured on Monday in practice. There is very little behind starters Moore and Derek Smith.

On a positive note, OLB Julian Peterson is expected to return to action, and he very well might be the best player on the field on either side of the ball on either team. He is a special playmaker who has no physical weaknesses to his game. If he is truly 100 percent, he is a terror who plays fast, is great in pursuit and is excellent as a pass rusher and in man coverage.

• TE Eric Johnson's injury is a blow to QB Smith's development. Johnson was the ideal tight end for Smith to use as his go-to guy and ease his transition as an NFL starter. Johnson, like Smith, is extremely intelligent and is also sure-handed and understands how to get open vs. both man and zone coverage. The 49ers lack another receiving option similar to Johnson. A sure-handed, reliable receiver like Johnson would have gone a long way as a safety blanket for the rookie quarterback.

Special Teams

Amazingly, the 49ers have asked PK Joe Nedney to attempt only three field goal attempts all season. He has made all three and has had two successful onside kicks, but the kicker position is close to nonexistent in San Francisco. On the other hand, second year punter Andy Lee has been overworked in his two seasons in the NFL and has responded very well. He has a big leg and is very athletic for the position. He has a bright future in the league.

PK John Hall quickly could become yesterday's news in Washington. He has missed 11 of the last 15 games due to injury, including the last four, with a pulled quadriceps. Rookie Nick Novak from nearby University of Maryland has begun to establish himself as the Redskins' kicker and has done a nice job in limited action this season.


• Washington WR Santana Moss vs. San Francisco RDC Shawntae Spencer

• San Francisco OG Eric Heitman vs. Washington DT Cornelius Griffin

• Washington OC Casey Rabach vs. San Francisco NT Anthony Adams

• Washington LT Chris Samuels vs. San Francisco OLB Julian Peterson

• San Francisco QB Alex Smith vs. Washington DC Gregg Williams

Scouts' Edge

Traveling cross country and beating the Redskins at home with a rookie quarterback and first-year head coach is too much to ask of this young 49ers team. San Francisco is rebuilding in an impressive manner but is at least a year away from being an average NFL football team in terms of talent.

Alex Smith drew a tough, aggressive defense in his first start against Indy, and this Redskins defense will pose another tough test. However, these games will only make him better in the future.

Washington should struggle to run the ball early on, but Brunell will find Moss all day for big plays, and San Francisco's defense will simply spend too much time on the field to stop this balanced offense. Expect the 49ers lack of depth up the middle of their defense to play a big part in them wearing down in the second half.

Prediction: Redskins 24, 49ers 10

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Take 2: 49ers vs. Redskins

• Mark Brunell....Although he does not have a premier arm, he is able to deliver the ball well enough to receivers along the sideline on the wide side of the field or deep down the field.


So though he doesn't have a strong arm he can get the ball deep down field? What? :whoknows: Am I the only one that thinks this makes little sense?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So though he doesn't have a strong arm he can get the ball deep down field? What? :whoknows: Am I the only one that thinks this makes little sense?

What he's basically saying is that Brunell can't gun it down the field anymore. He does have enough arm to go deep, but he can't squeeze it in like those with better arms.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Doesnt it feel good to have a gamebreaking wide out? It's been a while since we have had a wideout who strikes this kind of fear into defensive backs. Im so happy to have him, and just think the Jets thought of him as a number 3 behind McCariens and Cotchery...:rotflmao: :laugh:

moss owns. i love how he isn't one-dimensional. he doesn't only make big plays in stride. he can take a short pass the distance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

if you watch the replays of the last two bombs in dallas, the first one was actually thrown 'ok'. it floated way to the inside and moss made a monster adjustment (went from running basically straight to all of a sudden running towards the goal post to save the day). one more foot to the inside and it would have been batted away, so i wasn't too impressed there. The 2nd throw was right in the bread basket though..... seeing he hasn't done that here in 2 years it was about freakin time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...