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Takeaways from the 49ers’ ugly win over Washington

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What we learned from San Francisco’s sixth straight win of the season.

San Francisco 49ers v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

It wasn’t pretty, but the San Francisco 49ers got the job done. Kyle Shanahan and crew endured the rain, wind, and mud of the FedEx field to top Washington 9-0 and remain undefeated. It was the 49ers’ fourth road win of the season in six games, after not winning a single away-game in all of 2018.

Here are our takeaways from San Francisco’s 6-0 start:

Extending the lead

The 49ers are the only undefeated team in the NFC West, the NFC, and one of two in the NFL, along with the New England Patriots. The success of this team through the first seven weeks has given San Francisco the outright lead over their division with the 5-2 Seattle Seahawks in second place. The Los Angeles Rams (4-3) and Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1) round out the rest of the division. Winning the NFC West is the simplest path to the playoffs for the 49ers, but it won’t be easy. The second half of the season includes the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, and the Seahawks twice.

Pitching a shutout

The defense’s performance on Sunday was similar to what we saw last week against the Rams. Washington came out running the ball, which should’ve been expected given the conditions. The 60-yard drive consisted entirely of runs, except a small shovel pass. Washington averaged five yards per play on the drive that ended in a missed field goal. Robert Saleh’s defense dominated the rest of the game, holding Case Keenum and the offense to just 36 yards in the second half. Linebacker Kwon Alexander made the highlight of the game late in the third quarter, ending a Washington drive by stripping Washington running back Adrian Peterson of the ball, which was recovered by defensive lineman Jullian Taylor.

Overcoming the elements

The 49ers beat their toughest opponent of the season on Sunday - mother nature. Washington’s FedEx Field was home to abysmal conditions all day, the nonstop rain soaking the field, creating a brutal mix of water, mud, and grass. Both the 49ers and Washington combined for 65 carries in an attempt to avoid throwing, but even running the ball was difficult. The ground was too soft and too wet for running backs to cut effectively. The longest 49ers run on the day was 11 yards from Matt Breida. Despite it all, the offense still managed three scoring drives in which field goals felt like touchdowns.

Gould back on track

Kicker Robbie Gould is having a rough season so far. He’s missed seven kicks through Week 7, one more than his previous career-worst six misses in all of 2015. He started wide left on Sunday on the team’s 45-yard attempt in the first half. It wasn’t his worst miss, though, given the conditions. After that, Gould was perfect. He hit from 28, 22, and 29 yards, accounting for all nine of the 49ers’ points. Long snapper Kyle Nelson is set to return this week after serving a 10-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. He’ll be the team’s third long snapper this season. The 49ers will be hoping the stability moving forward will aid Gould’s consistency.

Bosa does it again

The 49ers No. 2 overall pick has quickly established himself as a premier defender in the NFL. Bosa was disruptive again against Washington. He put the final nail in the coffin when he sacked Keenum on that last play of the game, running the quarterback down before sliding in celebration across the wet grass. Bosa finished Sunday’s game with seven total tackles, the most of any 49ers defender. He also added four tackles for loss, a quarterback hit, and the sack mentioned above.