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What to expect when Washington has the ball

Part three with Hogs Haven

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Andrew From Hogs Haven joins me once again, this time to talk about how things will look when Washington has the ball. Spoiler: It won’t be great.

By the numbers

Washington is 30th in DVOA on offense. They’re 28th in passing, and 30th against the run. San Francisco has not struggled on defense. They’re second overall. First against the pass and 12th against the run. Here are a few other key stats:

It’ll be a tough matchup for Washington. On the season, their offense has a success rate of 46%. When measuring explosive plays, Washington is 24th and 29th against the pass and run, respectively. You either dink and dunk against this defense, or get it all in one swing. Washington doesn’t appear to be able to do either.

When Washington has the ball


Interim head coach Bill Callahan has promised a commitment to the run game and managed to deliver on that promise last week against the Dolphins. I imagine the Washington will run it up the gut with Adrian Peterson as much as possible. This will help to hide (probable) starting QB Case Keenum and also set up play-action passing, which I expect to be an important part of the pass offense in an attempt to mitigate the 49ers pass rush. I would also expect some misdirection runs with speedy Steve Sims Jr in the backfield alongside Adrian Peterson. Overall, I think focusing on the running game and misdirection, and play-action will be the core of the offense in an attempt to hide our QB play.


Misdirection is a good idea for Washington. The Rams used some of that and had success early on. Then the Niners made a couple of adjustments, and that was the end of that story. Running the ball works in theory until one of the defensive linemen wreck your play, and it’s 2nd & 13. Now what? Also, Washington is the worst short-yardage team in the NFL.

I’m interested to see how aggressive Robert Saleh is this week. He generally blitzes fewer than ten times a game. Saleh hasn’t had to generate pressure since one of the four linemen have gotten the job done themselves. Getting to the edge with speed on jet sweeps and end arounds have worked for opposing offenses, but those aren’t play that you can rely on a per-drive basis. If I’m Washington, I move Terry McLaurin around, and try to test San Francisco down the field with my speedy wideouts. There’s no guarantee for success, but 12 play drives aren’t a thing against this defense.

Kwon Alexander missed six tackles against the Rams. That was out of character for him this season. I wonder if Washington will try and get Chris Thompson underneath, or another receiver, to force the 49ers to make plays in the open field.