The Redskins, losers of three straight, are a desperate team right now and need a win to keep alive their hopes of achieving a respectable record this season.
At 6-1, the 49ers are favored by four points and enter this game with a 3-0 record on the road this season. San Francisco averages 309 yards a game on offense and their bread and butter is the run, where the team averages 137.6 rushing yards a game. Defensively, the 49ers limit their opponents to just 73.4 rushing yards (best in the NFL) and they surrender only 15.3 points per game, also best in the league.
The Redskins certainly have their work cut out for them. Here are some key matchups for Sunday’s game.
WSH LBs London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh vs. SF RB Frank Gore
The Redskins, as you well know, have struggled against the run. They have allowed 120 yards per game on the ground, and San Francisco loves to pound the ball. Gore is averaging 4.8 yards per carry and has rushed for five touchdowns. Fletcher last week recorded 20 tackles, but McIntosh and Keyaron Fox, who spelled McIntosh, both struggled mightily. Washington needs a better effort this week as it braces for Gore, who in his last four games has rushed for 127, 125, 141 and 134 yards, respectively.
WSH C Will Montgomery vs. SF LB Patrick Willis
It appears as if Montgomery this week will shift back to his original position of center as the Redskins try to find some improvement on their battered offensive line. Willis is as good as they come, earning Pro Bowl honors in each of his first four seasons in the NFL, and appearing to be on his way to a fifth straight trip. Willis is strong against the run, so Montgomery and his line mates must hold Willis & Co. at bay if they expect to get Ryan Torain and Roy Helu going. Willis also will also look to get after John Beck up the middle, so the line must put on an improved effort to buy their quarterback time.
WSH SS LaRon Landry, FS Reed Doughty vs. SF TE Vernon Davis
Free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe’s status is in doubt as he nurses knee and toe injuries, and if he can’t go, Reed Doughty likely would start in his place. He and Landry will have to do a lot of accounting for D.C. native Vernon Davis, who leads the team with 27 catches for 298 yards and three touchdowns. Expect a fired-up Davis, who will be playing in front of a hometown crowd and had to round up 90 tickets for family and friends.
WSH WR Anthony Armstrong vs. SF CB Carlos Rogers
The Redskins desperately need someone to step up in addition to Fred Davis, and Armstrong has yet to have the impact that he did last season, when he was Washington’s second-leading receiver. There have been opportunities, but he has either dropped the ball, or other times, been overthrown or missed by Beck. Rogers has had this date circled on his calendar for a long time. He will likely match up with Armstrong from time to time and look to shut down his former teammate.
WSH LB Brian Orakpo vs. SF LT Joe Staley
Orakpo leads the Redskins with 4.5 sacks and needs to lead a strong effort in pressuring Alex Smith, who has thrown only two interceptions this season. Orakpo will find himself matched up primarily with Joe Staley, an athletic left tackle who also boasts good quickness and strength. Orakpo still struggles at times in getting to the quarterback when he’s not able to use his speed and strength to beat an opponent. No. 98 needs to go at Staley with a good second and third effort and get into the backfield often.
WSH LB Lorenzo Alexander & Co. vs. SF WR Ted Ginn Jr.
Field position will be crucial, and Alexander and the special teams unit this week face a dangerous return man in Ginn. The former Ohio State star already has a punt return for a touchdown and a kickoff returned for a touchdown. Ginn is averaging 29.8 yards a kick return and 13.2 yards on punt returns. The Redskins have done well on kick coverage, limiting teams to 22.8 yards a return (eighth in the NFL) when Graham Gano hasn’t racked up one of his 20 touchbacks. On punts, where Sav Rocca is booming the ball, Washington has limited opponents to 8.9 yards per punt return.