Redskins vs 49ers Keys to the Game
1. Keep it simple for Griffin:
-The reasons for Robert Griffin III‘s struggles and his future with the team are another debate, what is definitive is right now the Redskins need to take a step back and simplify things for Griffin. He’s struggling with a lot of areas of being a QB and they can’t hope to have a full game plan versus a good defense under those circumstances. The Redskins need to get back to basics and call a lot of simple concepts like they used when he was a rookie. Now that really limits what you can do offensively, and the 49ers defense is not likely to be fooled, but they don’t have many other options at this point.
2. Stick with the ground game:
-The 49ers are very tough to run against ranking top 10 in every major rush defense category, but the Redskins need to find a way. They simply can’t hope to put the ball in Griffin’s hands 30+ times in this game and win. He’s struggling considerably right now and his job isn’t going to be easier with the pass rush the 49ers can bring. Alfred Morris needs to carry the load this game, and the Redskins need to stick to it even if it is tough going initially.
3. Find some way to stop Aldon and Justin Smith:
-It’s unlikely that Trent Williams plays this week (and even if he does he’ll be well below 100%), and guard Shawn Lauvao is listed as questionable as well. That means the Redskins options are going to be rookie Morgan Moses at LT and either Lauvao or Josh LeRibeus at LG. Those will be the primary guys responsible for blocking All-pro’s Aldon and Justin Smith from living in the Redskins backfield. This is a very difficult task and last year when Trent Williams was healthy he struggled immensely with blocking these guys. The Redskins are going to need to bring in some extra help on a lot of plays, or it could get ugly fast. This will limit what the Redskins can do offensively, but the alternative is letting these two run free in the backfield.
4. Limit turnovers and penalties:
-For as bad as the Redskins played as a whole last week one of the worst parts of their game was the number of offensive penalties. Coming off a bye, at home the Redskins had multiple false starts and illegal formation penalties, how does that happen? Those penalties were back-breakers versus a bad team like the Bucs and will be much worse versus the 49ers. The turnovers are even a bigger issue, the 49ers defense is 3rd in the league in creating turnovers so they will definitely take advantage of any poor throws or runners not protecting the football. If the Redskins are going to upset the 49ers they have to protect the ball, plain and simple.
5. Blitz Colin Kaepernick:
-Like a lot of young, mobile QB’s Colin Kaepernick has a tendency to hold on to the ball too long and will take some unnecessary sacks. Given that the 49ers are now without two of their starting 5 OL for this game the Redskins might have a window to disrupt Kaepernick and limit this offense. Three games ago against Dallas the blitz calls were working and it led to some big plays and a win, since then though the blitzes by in large haven’t been effective and it has left the Redskins exposed. Given the fine line that the Redskins have to walk, I wouldn’t look for too many all out blitzes, but I’d frequently bring an extra rusher or two. If Kaepernick has time he will pick the Redskins apart and one of the 49ers talented weapons will end up wide open. This has to be a game where the pass rush steps up and makes some big plays. Even if it’s not always getting sacks, but forcing errant throws or maybe holding penalties.
6. Make them earn their drives:
-The 49ers are not a team that turns the ball over a lot and they play pretty smart football so they are capable of sustaining drives, but they’ve been up and down this year so they have had some issues with consistency in this area. Last week the Redskins continuously got torched for big gains and Touchdowns through the air and it put that game out of reach. This week the Redskins need to ensure they aren’t giving up those 20 and 40 yard (or more) type of plays. Maybe the result will be the same with the 49ers scoring TD’s, but maybe the Redskins can get them to stall out more drives or force them to settle for FG’s. At this point the Redskins have to be a bend but don’t break type of defense, because they simply aren’t the type that will create turnovers or completely limit another team.