The play of returner Brandon Banks, which should have been a bright spot for the Redskins this season, has instead looked like a sore point in recent weeks.

Banks is on the team as a specialist because coaches believe he can make big plays. But Coach Mike Shanahan says Banks is trying so hard to turn in those big plays, he’s instead making big mistakes.

Brandon Banks nearly fumbles a punt return during the first quarter Sunday. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

“When we talk about his game -- you’re accountable for everything you do,” Shanahan said of Banks after the game.

Fortunately for Banks, he recovered both muffed punts Sunday. But both mistakes hurt. His fumble in the first quarter started the Redskins on their own 3-yard line.

“You can see he kind of picked up his eyes as he was catching the ball, looking for a lane,” Shanahan said. “Ball security first.”

“Brandon, every time he touches the ball, he wants to make a big play,” the head coach said. “Sometimes he’s got to really think about the decisions he makes because you can’t fumble the ball on the 3-yard line, and you can’t turn the football over on a punt return.”

Banks entered Sunday’s game tied for eighth in the conference with an average of 9.3 yards per punt return. He was ninth in the NFC on kick returns, averaging 23.9 yards on each one. Against the 49ers Sunday, he didn’t post any punt return yardage and averaged 23.3 yards per kickoff return.

Banks had a touchdown in the preseason but hasn’t broken one in the regular season.