Prior to the game, we were happy to provide some insight into how the Washington Redskins are prepared for a matchup with the undefeated San Francisco 49ers. Niners Maven's Jose Sanchez wanted some insight into how Washington feels about Kyle Shanahan, what the plan will be to combat the vaunted 49ers pass rush and how quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is viewed.
1.) When Kyle Shanahan last spoke with the media, he mentioned that his time with Washington was only enjoyable because he worked with his dad. Other than that, not so much. Is there a sense in D.C. that Shanahan is viewing this as a revenge game?
Honestly it's tough for anyone in Washington to care too much about Shanahan. The revolving door of head coaches and assistants under Dan Snyder is so long and depressing, it's hard to get riled up about any particular one because so many have moved on to find success elsewhere. Shanahan can look at it as a revenge game, but of all the assistants to move on, there's a sense of blame given to the Shanahan family more than any of the rest.
The debacle that was Robert Griffin's career is firmly placed at their feet, especially trying to continue using him as a running quarterback following his devastating injury. They are seen as culpable in not allowing Griffin to transition to more of a pocket passer and wanting to keep him as a dual threat, to the detriment of his health.
2.) It has been quite the soap opera this season for the Washington Redskins. From Trent Williams holdout to the firing of Jay Gruden. Despite that, Washington was able to get their first win last week against Miami. Could that be something that builds their confidence to keep it a relatively close game with San Francisco?
Of course any light at the end of the tunnel is welcomed, but the team struggled against the Dolphins. They eeked out a one-point victory in a game they could have lost if the Dolphins didn't run such a hideous two-point attempt. For anyone thinking the organizational tanking from the Dolphins front office could have been an edict made to the coaching staff as well, that play call will be used as evidence 1A.
Regardless, a win is a win and it gave the coaches, players and fan a moment of joy in an otherwise despondent season. The fanbase is apathetic at this point, and with the Washington fan base that's an incredibly difficult emotion to elicit. It will most likely be another stadium filled with rival fans and that can't be a good feeling for the players when they emerge from the tunnel. There has been a glimmer of hope, with the rest of the division falling backwards that Washington has a shot at the incredible run, but that is a fanciful hope.
3.) It is well noted that the pass rush of the 49ers is one of the best in the NFL. They’re a huge reason why the 49ers just Sean McVay’s Rams to career lows on offense last week. What do you think Washington is capable of doing to slowdown or negate their rush?
Washington ranks 17th in adjusted sack rate, giving up a QB takedown on 6.9% of passing plays, so there's obvious concern here about what the 49ers present with their rush. Without Trent Williams anchoring the line, it's difficult to project much success against the rotation of Dee Ford, Nick Bosa, Ronald Blair and Arik Armstead, not to mention the interior presence of Deforest Buckner.
Case Keenum will need to get his head on a swivel and maximize by using short underneath crossers to get his receivers a chance to make yards after the catch. In this vein, rookie WR Terry McLaurin will be of even more importance. He's a true No. 1 receiver, capable of doing those things and getting open deep.
On the occasions the line can protect Keenum, he can't have the habitual overthrows and has to connect with McLaurin two or three times to have a real shot at the upset.
4.) Kyle Shanahan mentioned this week that he isn’t overlooking Washington just because they’re 1-5. Given that the 49ers are 5-0, this has trap game written all over it. What is it about Washington that they excel at that people can easily overlook?
McLaurin is the truth. How he slipped to the third round is a mystery the Washington faithful is ecstatic to uncover. The club ran the ball well last week against the Dolphins, but again, it was against the Dolphins, so it remains to be seen if Callahan's renewed dedication to the run will hold up for a second straight week. Losing Chris Thompson to a toe injury hurts, as he's the one staple of the offense, a viable weapon for chunk plays out of the backfield on passing downs.
On defense, safety Landon Collins is coming off a defensive player of the week performance, and he's been as advertised, a downhill force in defense that levels the playing field, though he doesn't have the best coverage skills. A huge game from him could help keep the formidable 49ers rushing attack somewhat in check.
5.) Jimmy Garoppolo has been playing relatively well this season, yet some are critical of him to the point that they view him as a weakness. Do you believe he is an area of weakness? Or what are the areas you see that Washington can try to exploit on Sunday?
I think Garoppolo is playing as a middle-tier quarterback, which is good enough to win with when a team has a strong rushing attack and a stout defense. One thing I've noticed is his propensity to throw short of the sticks, a cardinal sin in today's NFL that indicates more of a bus-driver mentality than the guy who is going to go out and win a game. Prior to his injury last year, one of the biggest knocks on him had been his inability to process pressure up the middle.
That makes Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne the key to this game for Washington. The Redskins defense is much better when Allen plays, and he's coming off a two-sack performance against Miami. If they can rattle Garoppolo, the defense could be opportunistic and create some short-field opportunities for the offense, which will desperately need some against the San Fran defense.
- Final Week 7 pre-game Press Conferences (link)
- Final Injury Report: RB Craig Reynolds promoted to 53-man roster (link)
- Advanced Stats Captures Week 6 failures, Week 7 hopes in NFC East (link)
- Week 7 Advanced Stat Preview: Win Probability, Target Depth, Success Rates (link)
- Landon Collins named NFC Defensive Player of the Week (link)
- Week 7 EPA Power Rankings (link)
- How to Watch, Live Stream, Wager on Week 7 (link)