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Three matchups to watch in 49ers vs. Washington

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Here are three matchups that fans will need to play close attention to when San Francisco takes on Washington on Sunday.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The undefeated San Francisco 49ers head cross-country to face off against the 1-win Washington, who look lifeless since the start of this season. Washington has changed quarterbacks multiple times, fired their head coach and are trending in the wrong direction.

On the flip side, San Francisco is coming off of their biggest win at Los Angeles, defeating a division rival without either of their starting tackles, fullback and left cornerback. With the 4-2 Panthers coming into to town next weekend, the 49ers can’t overlook Washington in Week 7.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan returns to Washington, where he was a coach on his dad — Mike Shanahan’s — staff. The younger Shanahan didn’t mince his words when asked about his time with Washington, claiming that nothing was good outside of working with his dad and some of the other coaches.

With the 49ers sitting as 10-point favorites coming into Sunday, here are three matchups that fans should focus on when San Francisco looks to improve to 6-0.

1. Washington’s run defense vs. San Francisco’s rushing attack

Under Shanahan, the 49ers have been trying to establish the running game to open up the play-action passing attack. On Sunday, San Francisco may not even need to throw the ball against a leaky Washington’s rush defense.

Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s leaky unit is ranked 28th in run defense, giving up 134 yards per game on the ground. That plays right into the hands of the 49ers, who rush for 179.8 yards per game.

However, San Francisco didn’t reach their season average last week against the Rams without tackles Mike McGlinchey, Joe Staley and fullback Kyle Juszczyk — who are pivotal in clearing lanes for the 49ers’ running backs.

I think San Francisco will top the 100-yard mark on Sunday — even with the massive list of injuries. Washington’s lifeless defense won’t have an answer for Shanahan’s scheme and it’s going to be a long afternoon.

2. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Washington’s secondary

While there’s not many bright spots with Washington, their secondary has actually been decent this season. A group that features the likes of corner Josh Norman, safety Landon Collins and corner Quinton Dunbar has performed up to the mark.

Washington is tied for fourth in the NFL — with the 49ers — racking up seven interceptions on the season. It isn’t even the holidays, but Garoppolo’s in a generous mood, gifting away interceptions on a weekly basis.

With the short-handed 49ers on the road, they can’t afford to keep this game close or give the undermanned Washington any hope. Garoppolo can’t turn the ball over on Sunday if the 49ers want to put away Washington early.

3. Kyle Shanahan vs. Washington’s front office

The one meaningful storyline heading into this game is Kyle Shanahan vs. Washington’s power duo of Dan Schneider and Bruce Allen. The story of Shanahan’s exit from Washington is well drawn out, but this is the one matchup I am most excited to watch.

Shanahan probably circled this matchup before the season began and I’m sure he’s looking forward to showing Washington what they are missing in a coach — especially with Washington in search for someone to be their head coach.

Look for the 49ers’ head coach to show off his offensive ability and really lay it on Washington Sunday.