The San Francisco 49ers (6-1) have another challenge waiting for them in Maryland when they travel across country to take on the Washington Redskins. The Niners are looking good right now on a 5-game win streak and getting healthier with the return of Braylon Edwards at wide receiver.
The 49ers are looking to continue their hot streak on the road in this winnable week 9 match-up. In this piece, I would like to go over some of the keys to victory head coach Jim Harbaugh and his squad could use to come away with a W.
All-Purpose Yardage for Frank Gore
Frank Gore has been having a Pro Bowl caliber year for the 49ers offense, thriving in coach Harbaugh's new west coast offense. The reason for the need for these to be "all-purpose" yards is because Redskins linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are good football players that need to be challenged.
Gore will need to be running the ball and I would look for him to be in the screen game to slow down the rush from the outside backers. Gore is an intricate piece to this offense and he will need to get going for this offense to have success. If the offensive line continues to generate push like they have these past few weeks, it should get the offense going as a whole.
Braylon Edwards Mismatches
The wide out checks in at 6'3 while both corners for the Redskins, Deangelo Hall and Josh Wilson, check in at 5'10 and 5'9. While Hall has made a nice career for himself defending receivers in all shapes and sizes, I think the staff may want to take advantage of the size difference.
In the game against the Browns where Edwards returned to action, we saw a lot of quick slants with Edwards using his big frame to shield the ball from the defender. This week, it wouldn't be surprising if the offense took their shots downfield, allowing Edwards a chance to reel in some jump balls.
Pressure the Inexperienced John Beck
The 49ers front seven has been playing exceptionally well this year and even with Ray McDonald sidelined to injury, I think Ricky Jean-Francois will step up in his absence. The linebackers and defensive line have been playing great all around, and should provide problems for the Washington offense.
John Beck continues to start for the Redskins but is without franchise star Santana Moss. I expect San Francisco to put the heat on Beck and get him rattled, often and early.
Field Position with Special Teams
The Niners believe in the philosophy that all three phases of the game are equally important. Some names to follow on special teams would be Ted Ginn Jr., David Akers, Andy Lee and Blake Costanzo. These guys are the four key contributors to good special teams play, as they provide points and field position for the offense and defense.
NFL Network predicted this as the upset special of the week on one of their segments but I believe if San Francisco makes Washington play 49er football, they can put this one away early. I'd look for these aspects of the game to be heavily in favor the Niners as they look to go to 7-1 in 2011.
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