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49ers 2019 opponent preview: Washington

It’s time to start scouting the 49ers opponents for 2019. Today it’s the Washington.

It’s been said several times that Niners Nation is a big, big, Alex Smith house. Even if against him, it would have been nice to see Smith playing again. That won’t be happening thanks to a brutal leg injury that comes with warnings if curiosity prompts a search for it. The video is graphic, and the injury may have ended Smith’s career.

So no Alex Smith for 2019. It’s a shame because his story as the once-labeled bust to decent quarterback is something anyone can get behind. It would have been sweet to see him win a Super Bowl after everything he went through while he was with Kansas City, but it’s not happening.

In any case, it left Washington in a bad spot to figure out the future at quarterback. It’s not looking better outside of their signal callers. They are already dealing with injury issues, having lost linebacker Reuben Foster to an ACL tear at OTAs. Add in that their skill position players are getting a bit older and they’ve lost a decent wide receiver in Jamison Crowder, Washington might be having a developmental season.

Keep in mind, they are not rebuilding. The Alex Smith injury has set them back, but they aren’t in near as much of a rebuild as the San Francisco 49ers were a couple of years ago. One season and they could be back in the thick of things.

Then again, this is Washington we’re talking about here.

Draft picks

Round 1: Dwayne Haskins (QB)
Round 1: Diontae Johnson (Montez Sweat)
Round 3: Terry McLaurin (WR)
Round 4: Bryce Love (RB)
Round 4: Wes Martin (G)
Round 5: Ross Pierschbacher (G)
Round 5: Cole Holcomb (OLB)
Round 6: Kelvin Harmon (WR)
Round 7: Jimmy Moreland (CB)
Round 7: Jordan Brailford (DE)

Notable free agent acquisitions

Landon Collins (S)
Ereck Flowers (RT)

Notable departures

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S)
Preston Smith (OLB)
Jamison Crowder (WR)

It was not a good time for free agency and Washington. They got a great safety in Landon Collins but paid $84,000,000 to get him. That’s just a bit much. They also got Erek Flowers for a year to help out on the offensive line. That’s pretty much it for big-name new faces. Adrian Peterson will return as a running back, though if he can stay healthy is anyone’s guess.

The loss of Crowder hurts the wide receiver group, but Washington went to the draft to replace. Terry McLaurin is suuuuuper fast and could fit in nicely with Jay Gruden’s offense. Kelvin Harmon isn’t as sexy of a pass catcher, but the limited film I saw was solid.

We’re jumping around a bit, but the first pick, Dwayne Haskins, indicates Washington has identified their quarterback of the future. If Alex Smith was healthy, this would be a great situation. Haskins has some great upside but will need development in the NFL to be effective. A year or two of sitting would bring huge returns when Smith would hang it up.

Of course, I’m talking if Smith is coming back for 2019 and Smith might not come back at all after that injury. Haskins might be set up for failure from the start. A shame because he showed promise.

Washington traded back into the first round and snagged Montez Sweat. Sweat was a great pass rusher who showed his stuff in the Senior Bowl under Kyle Shanahan. If the 49ers traded back a few times, it’s believable to see him going to the team. That heart condition hurt Sweat’s stock or he could have been a top-10 pick.

The rest of these picks offer solid depth. Ross Pierschbacher and Cole Holcomb, in particular, were both picks that would have been fine on the 49ers and should do well with Washington.

If this draft is a success will depend on Sweat and Haskins. If they both can get it together, Washington had a decent draft.

The matchup

The 49ers have an advantage by playing against an inexperienced quarterback. The Washington roster has taken a hit since 2018 with some of their losses as well. The draft/free agency should put them into the conversation in 2020, but it’s hard to see them making much damage this year.

Fortunately for Washington, they get the 49ers traveling cross country with that bloody 10:00 A.M. start time. It doesn’t help matters that they will have played the Los Angeles Rams in L.A. the week prior.

The lethargic effects of the early morning should keep things close, but at this state, it’s hard to see the 49ers losing. Well, as long as they aren’t decimated by injuries at this point.

Washington’s skill position players are a bit long in the tooth (Vernon Davis, Adrian Peterson) which also could be a detriment. Speaking of skill positions, unless if Davis goes on a tear, Washington has far too many issues to compete with the 49ers at this state.