ILB PATRICK WILLIS
How he beats you: The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Willis ranks second on San Francisco with 65 tackles while also recording seven pass breakups. A four-time Pro Bowler, Willis has good vision, is a very instinctive player, is strong at the point of attack and shows good pursuit. “The guy has a great awareness in the game,” Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. “He makes a majority of their tackles. He runs sideline to sideline. He can cover well. He can hit well. He’s one of the top players at his position.”
How to stop him: The Redskins’ interior linemen must be on point, because Willis does a good job of shedding blocks and making plays. Willis doesn’t seem to have many weaknesses, but is better against the run than he is at dropping into pass coverage, so if Washington can exploit that, Willis’s threat is slightly diminished.
Bottom line: Willis and his defensive teammates are the best in the league both in points allowed and against the run. The 49ers haven’t given up a rushing touchdown all season and have limited opponents to just 15.3 points per game. That’s not good news for a Redskins offense that already has struggled – and continues to struggle – both in the rushing attack and in scoring. San Francisco does well rushing the passer also, owning 21 sacks, which ranks seventh in the league. The key will be establishing a balanced attack and getting the ball out of John Beck’s hands quickly.