The Washington Redskins will start three rookies on offense today, giving Roy Helu the nod at running back, Leonard Hankerson the start at wide receiver and Maurice Hurt at left guard as the team takes on the San Francisco 49ers at FedEx Field.

Helu, whom the team drafted in the fourth round out of Nebraska, has served primarily as a third-down back, recording 27 carries for 131 carries (4.9 carries) and 12 catches for 92 yards. He has improved in the pass-protection department as well, which fills a need because the Redskins are now without Tim Hightower (torn ACL). Ryan Torain previously had started two games in place of Hightower.

Hankerson has appeared in two games this season, and last week recorded his first catch — a 23-yard gain. Mike Shanahan said last week that Hankerson has looked exceptional in practice, and so now the coach is giving the third-round draft pick a chance to start.

Hurt takes over at left guard, where Will Montgomery had started the last two weeks in place of Kory Lichtensteiger, who is done for the year with a torn ACL and MCL. But today, Montgomery moves back to center and Hurt, whom Washington drafted in the seventh round out of Florida, will make the first appearance of his professional career.