Sunday’s loss against the 49ers was another standard issue Redskins loss as the offense couldn’t sustain drives or hold onto the football. Three drives came to an end because of turnovers and one other ended because of a dumb unnecessary roughness penalty by Trent Williams. At the time that the penalty against Williams happened the 49ers held a 3-0 lead and John Beck had just completed a 10 yard pass to Jabar Gaffney to move the Redskins into 49ers territory.
It was a strange play all around as it began with the 49ers jumping offsides, realizing they did it, and then looking like they stopped playing as John Beck completed his pass to Jabar Gaffney. If the play were allowed to stand the Redskins would have had first and ten at the San Francisco 41, but as soon as the play ended Trent Williams pushed a 49ers defender to the ground which instead gave the Redskins a third and 23 at their own 34 yard line. This play as much as the two lost fumbles and the interception should count as a turnover for the Redskins offense. That is what the end result was. The Redskins had momentum and were driving, but all of that was lost when Trent Williams couldn’t keep his cool.
Turnovers are the biggest issue for the Redskins offense. It is an offense void of play-makers. One that relies on long methodical drives down the field and a little bit of luck to be able to score. The Redskins two scores in the game were partly luck and partly the result of the flawed defensive philosophy of the NFL. The Redskins first score came on a 59 yard field goal by Graham Gano right before halftime. It was an amazing kick by a kicker that has had his issues with shorter kicks in the past, but was able to nail this one.
The Redskins were then able to score a touchdown and convert for two points in the last minutes of the football game because the 49ers went away from the defense that hadn’t allowed the Redskins to reach the red zone all day. The prevent defense is one of the worst ideas in sports. All it almost accomplished was preventing the 49ers from having as easy of a victory as they should have. If the Redskins had recovered the onside kick and done something in the last minute of the game the talk today might be very different. All teams in the NFL are in love with the prevent defense and the offenses that it is used against aren’t afraid to take what is given to them and march down the field for a late score. The purpose of it is a mystery as a team that ends up using it has a defensive plan that worked for the first 50 minutes of the game, but isn’t good enough for the final minutes.
When a team contains another like the 49ers did to the Redskins then there is no reason to stop doing what worked in order to play by the book and implement a defense that accomplishes nothing but opening up the middle of the field and allowing a score. It was a long shot for the Redskins to recover the onside kick, score a second touchdown in under a minute, and convert the two point convertion a second time, but it was a shot, and without the prevent defense not even that exists.
After years of rebuilding the 49ers look like a crisp football team once more. Alex Smith was 19/24 for 200 yards and one touchdown. It isn’t the best numbers a quarterback can put up, but he managed the offense and didn’t turn the ball over. Frank Gore was the power of the 49ers attack as he ran for 107 yards on 19 attempts. Gore looked like some of the running backs of old as he would charge downhill towards the line of scrimmage and just when it looked like he was going to be stopped he would shrug off his tackler and sprint for more yardage. When the Redskins were able to wrap up Gore he was always falling forward and it was rare to see him not turn a play into positive yardage.
The 49ers are the surprise team of this season. They are everything the Redskins want to be. A strong running game with a quarterback that isn’t spectacular but can manage the offense and a defense that should be feared by the time the playoffs roll around. The 49ers are a good football team and despite the outcome the Redskins did do some things in this game they can build on for the Miami game. The time of possession was a little more even as the 49ers held an advantage of just under 5 minutes, and the only touchdown scored on the Redskins defense was the result of a Roy Helu fumble near the end of the first half. If the Redskins could have eliminated the turnovers and the dumb penalty by Trent Williams then this might have been more of a game.