Redskins vs. 49ers: Colin Kaepernick outplays Robert Griffin III and Washington drops to 3-8

November 26, 2013

It just keeps getting uglier for the Washington Redskins. Their downward spiral continued Monday night at FedEx Field when quarterback Robert Griffin III was outdone by his San Francisco counterpart, Colin Kaepernick, and the Redskins lost to the 49ers, 27-6.

The misery of the Redskins was put on national display for a prime-time television audience, as their losing streak grew to three games and their record plummeted to 3-8. They remained all alone in last place in the NFC East and sent much of a disgruntled home crowd heading for the exits during the fourth quarter.

“Nobody is happy sitting here at 3-8,” linebacker London Fletcher said. “I mean, this is unacceptable when you look at it and think about what we were able to accomplish last year winning our division and now to be where we’re at, it’s not a good feeling at all.”

Coach Mike Shanahan credited San Francisco’s defense but also said he was “disappointed” in the Redskins’ performance and added that his team was “embarrassed” in the game.

“We haven’t got dominated like that since I’ve been here,” Shanahan said.

The Washington Post's Mike Jones analyzes what a tough loss to the 49ers means for the Redskins and coach Mike Shanahan. (Mike Jones & Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

Kaepernick threw three touchdown passes, two to wide receiver Anquan Boldin and one to tight end Vernon Davis, to outshine Griffin in a matchup of quarterbacks who mostly have struggled this season to recapture last year’s magic. Kaepernick completed 15 of 24 passes for 235 yards and didn’t throw an interception.

Griffin couldn’t keep pace. He threw an interception and managed only 127 yards in a 17-for-27 passing performance. He was sacked four times. The Redskins mustered only a pair of field goals, both in the first half, on offense and generally provided little resistance as the 49ers (7-4) ended their losing streak at two games and remained in the thick of the NFC playoff chase. The Redskins had only 30 yards of total offense in the second half and 190 in the game.

“It’s frustrating,” Griffin said. “I think we’re all frustrated. Everybody’s tired of losing.”

It had been a soap opera-like week at Redskins Park following a deflating loss Nov. 17 at Philadelphia. Shanahan’s job security was scrutinized. Griffin’s leadership was questioned. The Redskins seemingly had been reduced to playing for pride, ever-diminishing hopes of a turnaround and next season’s jobs. Even so, they had vowed to keep giving full effort. With wide receiver Leonard Hankerson on the season-ending injured reserve list and rookie tight end Jordan Reed on Monday’s inactive list, the Redskins had little choice but to turn back to recently discarded wideout Josh Morgan and tight end Fred Davis.

It didn’t help, although Morgan did make some contributions. The Redskins’ offense was disjointed from the outset. Griffin connected on only one of his six first-quarter throws, and that lone completion was for a one-yard loss. He had a first-quarter passer rating of zero.

“They’ve got a good defense,” said Redskins tailback Alfred Morris. “But they didn’t do anything special. They came out with basic stuff and we just didn’t get it done. I just feel overall they just wanted it more than we did.”

The Redskins went three plays and out and punted on each of their first three possessions. They managed a pair of first downs on their fourth drive but Griffin, under pressure by 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, threw a pass directly to safety Donte Whitner for an interception on the final play of the first quarter.

By then, the 49ers were up a touchdown. Kaepernick was sacked on each of San Francisco’s first two possessions as the 49ers began the night with a pair of punts. But the 49ers got moving on their third drive and Kaepernick found Boldin on consecutive plays, both against Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson, for a 24-yard gain and a 19-yard touchdown. San Francisco converted Whitner’s interception into a 29-yard field goal by place kicker Phil Dawson to make it 10-0 early in the second quarter.

Griffin and the Redskins steadied themselves from there to get a pair of field goals by kicker Kai Forbath and narrow the deficit to 10-6 by halftime. The Redskins used a no-huddle offensive approach effectively for part of their first field goal drive. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon and tight end Logan Paulsen got in each other’s way on a pass play gone wrong to help stall the drive, but Forbath connected from 36 yards.

Forbath and the field goal unit rushed on the field after Garcon was tackled in bounds on a catch in the final seconds of the half, with the Redskins out of timeouts. But the hurry-up operation worked and Forbath’s 35-yarder was good as time expired in the half.

The Redskins had a chance to tie the game early in the third quarter when they recovered a fumble by Vernon Davis near midfield. Shanahan left his offense on the field for a fourth-and-two gamble at the San Francisco 41-yard line. The carry went to backup tailback Roy Helu Jr., not Morris, and Helu was stopped short of a first down. The 49ers cashed in. Kaepernick had completions of 32 yards to Boldin and 20 yards to Davis. On a first-down play from the Redskins 6, Kaepernick ran to his right out of the pocket and found Boldin open in the back of the end zone. His throw was on target for Boldin’s second touchdown.

Davis was essentially uncovered by the Redskins when he caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Kaepernick late in the third quarter.

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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