Saying this was a 'must-win' is an understatement. The 49ers needed this win to stay in the 6th seed spot for the playoffs ahead of their division rival Arizona Cardinals. As Coach Harbaugh said, "Needed it and got it."
Here are my quick takeaways from the game:
RG III got beat up. Just like Manny Pacquiao did to Brandon Rios, the 49ers defense turned Robert Griffin III into their own personal punching bag. It didn't matter if he was running or passing, Niner defenders kept getting to him with legal hit after legal hit. (Unfortunately, in today's National Flag-Football League, it is necessary to add the word 'legal'). Some noteworthy hits were: Donte Whitner forcing him out-of-bounds on a scramble to the left, Ahmad Brooks clocking him for a couple of sacks (Maiocco), Aldon Smith laying him out causing an interception, and Justin Smith turning him into a Niner sandwich which led to a fumble. I'm not even counting the time when Griffin inadvertently blocked an Aldon Smith 'punt' using his groin (FOX). That one probably hurt the most.
The big play is back. Colin Kaepernick and the rest of the passing game has been missing most of the season, but they were able to execute some big plays against the Redskins. He hooked up with Vernon Davis for 20 yards and 40 yards; with Anquan Boldin for 32 yards and 24 yards; and also with rookie Vance McDonald for a 23-yard strike.
Kick returns are now exciting. LaMichael James has been given the full-time job as primary kick returner and he has grown into the role, coming up with good yardage on both punts and kickoffs (49ers). In this game, he was able to rip off a 32 yard kickoff return and a 40 yard punt return. We haven't had a returner this explosive since Jim Harbaugh remembered that Ted Ginn Jr. was on the 49ers roster.
Washington got out-talented. This is my big disclaimer for this win. The 49ers won, not because they out-schemed, out-coached or out-gameplanned the Redskins. They won because of superior talent. Physically, Washington had nothing that could match the talent level of the 49ers roster and they got overwhelmed by bigger, faster, stronger, and more athletically-gifted men. The Niners really have no problem beating teams with lesser talent. It's when they encounter teams that have similar talent that the 49ers struggle; and this has been a recurring theme all-season long.
So with Michael Crabtree set to return to the roster (Branch) and the rest of the team getting back to full strength, I'm putting the playoff push on the shoulders of the coaching staff. They have got to come up with better game plans, schemes and responses to beat the quality teams in this league.
Here are the VIDEO highlights courtesy of the 49ers official website. | Full Highlights: 49ers vs. Redskins (49ers)
The defense is already championship level. The offense needs more work. | More offensive production spurs win (ESPN)
It doesn't feel good to be a Redskins fan right now. | Redskins embarrassed in home loss to 49ers (Washington Post)
The 49ers have arguably the best linebacking crew in the NFL and Ahmad Brooks is another reason why. | 49ers' Brooks gets more attention with standout performance (Branch)
With increased scrutiny by NFL officials on personal fouls, it's almost laughable that these two plays were not penalized. | Davis facemasked, RG3 kicked in the groin, refs see neither (PFT)
Colin Kaepernick picked on Washington CB Josh Wilson all night. | A tough assignment, a difficult night for Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson (Washington Times)
49ers offense rises to challenge (Kawakami)
49ers-Redskins: What we learned (Yahoo)
And in Other News
I know teammates need to share with each other, but this thing with the Seattle secondary is getting ridiculous. | NFL.com says Seahawks CB Brandon Browner faces 8-game suspension, Browner denies report (BASG)