The Washington Post

Key to the Redskins-49ers game: Protect John Beck

The glaring statistic of last week’s Redskins game against the Bills was Buffalo’s 10-sack day. What’s more disturbing is that Buffalo had just four sacks and ranked among the worst defenses in the league coming in. This week, Washington faces a really good, young and gifted 49ers team, with a defense that features some serious playmakers.

So here it is, plain and simple: The offensive line must block and the play calls must be tailored to take advantage of the the speed and quickness of this 49ers defense.

The Niners are talented but they are still young. If Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan plays his cards right, he might be able to take advantage of them with a combination of run and pass plays.

If the Redskins are to have a fighting chance in this game they also will have to depend on their defense to keep things close, and hope that the offense can at least come close to controlling the time of possession.

The Niners’ offense will put the bulk of the work load on RB Frank Gore. The Redskins’ defense must stop him and force QB Alex Smith to throw. I don’t know if they can do it. But if they can, that would put them in a more favorable position.

Smith has not been asked to do much in the passing game. The 49ers’ formidable run game has done a great job of forcing opponents to play run-heavy defenses, without the luxury of sitting back in coverage. Knowing this coming in, expect Redskins’ defenseive coordinator Jim Haslett to attack the 49ers relentlessly at the beginning of the game. If his gambles are successful, they should keep the score low and force Smith to pass. And if Redskins’ MVP Sav Rocca can continue putting the ball deep in the other team’s territory, that will make it difficult for Smith to move the 49ers downfield.

The Redskins have to turn this into a battle of field position and wait for San Francisco to make a mistake. Kicker Graham Gano will need to be ready, because he may be the Redskins’ only source of points.

If they can execute this type of game plan, the Redskins may have a chance Sunday. It will be very difficult, however, especially if they don’t find a way to offset the line’s inability to block. Give 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh too many chances and he will find a way to put up points. I’m taking the Niners in this game and, unfortunately, I think for the second straight week it won’t be close.



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