The 49ers travel east once again to face the Washington Redskins. The 49ers look to improve to 7-1 on the season and 4-0 in the eastern time zone. The overall record would be quite impressive, but if they could also improve to 4-0 on eastern road trips, that would be all the more impressive. The 49ers have struggled mightily in the 10:00am PT starts prior to this year and this is just one more area where they have improved this season.
I took a few minutes to chat with Kevin over at Hogs Haven about his Redskins. The Redskins got off to a solid 3-1 start, but they have quickly come back to earth with a three-game losing streak. They now stand 3-4 and tied with three other teams for second place behind the New York Giants. Kevin chatted about what has brought the Redskins tumbling down, their filthy pair of outside linebackers, what to expect on offense with the current injury problems, and DeAngelo Hall's resurgence this season. Thanks to Kevin for taking a few minutes to chat.
Niners Nation: What has led to the recent three-game slide? Were the Redskins playing over their head earlier in the season or is there something more specific?
Hogs Haven: It's a slew of reasons but the two largest contributors are injuries and horrific QB play. If I put up a poll today with who should be our starting QB this week: Grossman, Beck, and Jamarcus Russell, I'd bet $100 that Jamarcus Russell would win it slightly. The Redskins have lost starters: Santana Moss (broken hand), Chris Cooley (knee, borken finger - IR), Trent Williams (high ankle sprain), Left Guard Kory Lichtensteiger (torn ACL/MCL), and RB Tim Hightower (best pass pro RB). That is a huge loss across the board, especially when the depth behind these guys are rookies and/or undrafted free agents. Literally no one has stepped up, and to Beck's defense, that is tough to do when he's trying to implement a play scheme AND get adjusted with the new guys. I've been calling it "A Trainbeck."
HH: The front 3 get credit here. Barry Cofield at Nose Tackle is arguably the best acquisition the Redskins had this off-season (or is it "in-season" because of the lockout?). His ability to swim past centers and Carriker and Stephen Bowen's ability to push mean Rak and Kerrigan get 1-on-1 matchups. Neither of them have an arsenal of moves like Freeney, but their bull rushes are very effective. Kerrigan sheds blocks with the best of him. His second home is in the back-field.
NN: DeAngelo Hall seems to be having a resurgent year. How do the Redskins use him? Is he on one guy all game or do they move him around?
HH: Haslett usually keeps his corners dedicated to one side of the field. Atogwe, the Free Safety free agent we picked up from the Rams, is a very smart player and has greatly helped out DHall on that side. Poor safety play makes corners look worse than they are (and Kareem Moore ranked out in the NFL bottom last year). Unfortunately, Atogwe has barely been practicing the last two weeks and it's clear he's not even 80%.
NN: How is your special teams, particular the punt return and kick return units?
HH: It has been very underwhelming. Brandon Banks is a very electric returner, but for some reason the 2011 version is a 2 volt battery. He's had lingering knee issues, but something is wrong and no one external knows what that is exactly. The kid runs a sub 4.3 yet has not taken one to the house since pre-season. Our coverage units are very solid and the 49ers of course will be a great test of that. Expect Gano to kick every ball out of the endzone. Sav Rocca is having a Pro Bowl year. HEY, WE'RE GOOD AT SOMETHING!!!
NN: What does the Redskins offense bring to the table without Santana Moss and Tim Hightower?
HH: Leftovers. I'm telling you, that offense the Redskins trotted out last week would have trouble versus a college team. Trent Williams might go, which would help tremendously, but the bottom line is the Redskins have ZERO playmakers. It's a very simple game plan, stop the run (which we can't do anyway) and force John Beck to do John Beck things. Two quick stats: John Beck has fumbled the ball twice standing in the pocket with no pressure (like, all of a sudden it's made of ice). Since Hightower was hurt 10/16, Redskins RBs have rushed 9 times for 7 yards - all by Ryan Torain. Yea, I have $300 on Niners to cover.