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49ers need to keep eye out for Washington's pass rush

Washington has put together a solid pass rush, while the San Francisco 49ers offensive line has been inconsistent much of the season. OLB Ryan Kerrigan and DT Jason Hatcher will be two players to watch on Sunday.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers host a Washington squad that has struggled in quite a few phases of the game. One area where they are doing some good work is in the pass rush. Given the 49ers offensive line inconsistencies, and Anthony Davis's current concussion, the 49ers will need to figure out how to approach this unit.

Washington ranks No. 11 in the NFL with 25 sacks (Buffalo is first with 39). Football Outsiders ranks Washington No. 8 in adjusted sack rate, which gives sacks (plus intentional grounding penalties) per pass attempt adjusted for down, distance, and opponent.

Pro Football Focus measures something called pass rush productivity, which measures pressure created on a per snap basis with weighting toward sacks. Among players with at least 50 percent of snaps, Ryan Kerrigan ranks No. 4. Among 3-4 outside linebackers, Kerrigan ranks No. 9 in his PFF pass rush grade. On their defensive line, Jason Hatcher ranks No. 2 among all 3-4 defensive ends (behind only J.J. Watt) in PFF's pass rush productivity rating, and in general pass rush grade. It's safe to say, the 49ers will want to keep an eye out for Ryan Kerrigan and Jason Hatcher.

Kerrigan will be coming at either Anthony Davis or Jonathan Martin. The 49ers have one more practice today. If Davis does not practice, his odds of playing on Sunday likely diminish considerably. Davis has not exactly been a stalwart when playing this season, but injuries have prevented him from getting into much of a groove. Martin was not spectacular in place of Davis, but he is a serviceable backup. If Martin ends up playing, that would be the biggest matchup to watch on the line.

Joe Staley and Mike Iupati will find themselves opposite Jason Hatcher. Staley has settled down the last two weeks, particularly in pass protection. Iupati has been great as a run blocker, but his pass protection has been less than stellar. I suspect Washington will look to attack him more than Staley on Sunday.