The task for the Washington Redskins just got more difficult in the blink of an eye. Scatback and passing-down specialist Chris Thompson has been ruled out of Sunday afternoon's matchup with undefeated San Francisco, due to a toe injury suffered against the Miami Dolphins in Week 6.
He was able to log just 13 snaps in that contest, and now will have none to show the 49ers why they need to fear more than Adrian Peterson out of Washington's new commitment to the running game. In his place, they will get Craig Reynolds, who has had his own interesting journey to the field.
The rookie runner from Kutztown was an undrafted free agent signing, and will try to duplicate Thompson's duality out of the backfield. He has the chops for it, catching 147 passes and averaging 10.5 yards per reception across his collegiate career. Reynolds was used as a receiving back more in his early time at Kutztown though, catching 59 passes as a freshman, and then not catching more than 29 in a season again, which he did in both 2017 and 2018. What he lacked in volume, he made up for in production, sliding up from 8.4 yards a catch his first two years to 13.8 yards a catch his final two seasons.
Washington could certainly use some of that big-play ability on Sunday against a team with a stout defense that has propelled the 49ers to five straight wins to open the 2019 campaign.
The 49ers rank first in the NFL in passing-game defensive DVOA, a Football Outsiders metric that measures a team's value on a play-by-play basis compared to how the league average team would do against similar opponents in similar game situations. They also rank 11th against the run, leaving them No. 2 overall on defense, just behind the New England Patriots whose defense gave Washington fits a couple of weeks ago.
The Patriots held Washington to just 78 net passing yards, their lowest total since the Week 17 finale of 2018 when they were blanked by the playoff-bound Philadelphia Eagles, 24-0.
Washington has just 365 yards of passing offense over their last three contests. A bump out of the backfield may be the only way for this team to move the ball successfully on Sunday afternoon. With Peterson never being much of a receiving threat, that onus will now fall on the rookie runner Reynolds.
Reynolds totaled 81 yards on the ground on 27 rushing attempts during the preseason.
A day prior to the game, the majority of the inactive list is already known.
San Francisco 49ers
DT D.J. Jones (hamstring), FB Kyle Juszczyk (knee), T Mike McGlinchey (knee), WR Deebo Samuel (groin), T Joe Staley (fibula), CB Ahkello Witherspoon (foot)
RB Raheem Mostert (knee)
TE Vernon Davis (concussion), S Deshazor Everett (ankle), LB Josh Harvey-Clemons (hamstring), G Wes Martin (chest), RB Chris Thompson (toe)
CB Josh Norman (thigh, hand)