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Five questions with Hogs Haven: Montez Sweat could be a problem for the 49ers today

We discussed Alex Smith, which 49er Hogs Haven would take, Sweat, the” revenge games” today, and if Washington would make the playoffs.

San Francisco 49ers v Washington Redskins Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Andrew York of Hogs Haven was kind enough to take time to answer five questions ahead of today’s Washington/San Francisco matchup. We talked about Alex Smith, which player on WFT isn’t getting enough credit, and which 49er he’d choose if he could take one player from San Francisco’s roster.

1) Alex Smith has the “Checkdown Charlie wrap,” but Washington’s offense has been much better with him on the field, and their offense is in the top-10 in explosive plays since he’s been under center. What’s been the biggest difference with Smith as the starting QB?

Alex’s playstyle seems to mesh really well with OC Scott Turner’s offense. Scott calls a lot of plays with deep routes that clear out defenders in the short field, which Alex excels at throwing. Scott’s offense also heavily features passes to the RBs and TEs, which also works well with Alex Smith.

Part of the improvement is simply due to traits Alex Smith brings to the field too. He’s a smart veteran and can run the full offense, whereas they had to run a simplified playbook with Dwayne Haskins under center. Alex also has incredible intangibles that don’t manifest in stats but do manifest in wins.

For example, I’ve heard some of the wide receivers say that playing for Alex is like getting the answers to the test ahead of time because he does such a good job preparing them for what to expect on game day. The coaches had mentioned how Alex’s leadership and calming influence kept players in the game when we were down on points early and allowed us to rally in the second half. The fact that Alex is very careful with the football and avoids turnovers also helps the defense look good by giving them long fields to defend.

2) I don’t think the casual fan appreciates how well Washington’s defense has played. We all know about the defensive line, but who would you say is a name that doesn’t get enough credit for their success on that side of the ball?

Montez Sweat, the defensive end who plays opposite Chase Young. He was a 1st round pick in last year’s draft and has had a very good season so far, with 6 sacks, 13 QB hits, and 8 TFLs in 12 games played. Part of his breakout has been due to the attention Young demands, but Sweat has also been consistently beating his 1-on-1 matchups and playing with intensity until the final whistle is blown. His technique also improved a lot between last year and this one, so I think he’s going to be a great player for years to come. He also impacts the game in other ways, using his long arms to reach up and bat down passes quite effectively.

Keeping in mind, his stats would probably be better if we had better LB coverage to deny those short, quick passes. We have an exceptional DL all around, but their stats haven’t reflected the quality of their play because the LBs have been allowing a lot of short passes that keep the QB safe.

3) If you could take one player from the 49ers and have them on Washington, who would it be and why?

This question is a bit tough because a lot of the 49ers' strengths overlap with our own, particularly on defense. Even though he’s injured right now, I think the answer would have to be George Kittle. He’s a young All-Pro player at a position of need for us.

4) There are plenty of “revenge game” motives in this matchup. Are fans rooting for success when it comes to Jordan Reed and Trent Williams, or how has that relationship soured since both players left?

The relationship with Jordan Reed certainly hasn’t soured. He didn’t want to leave. He was just let go out of concern about his health and the number of concussions he had more than anything. I think Washington fans will be wishing him well and particularly hoping he stays healthy because it seems like he’s gambling with his future health more than most players by continuing to play.

The relationship with Trent Williams is more complicated and ended in a much messier way. I think a lot of Washington fans are still wondering how much of his departure was genuinely due to his feeling mistreated by the medical staff and front office and how much was Trent and his agent badly misplaying their hand in an attempt to get more money. I won’t go into all the details, but my feeling is that it’s roughly equal parts of both. Trent’s agent made a lot of noise about Trent deserving QB money even though he had 2 years left on his contract, but as time wore on and the team let the agent test the waters for trade, it seemed like that kind of talk died down when it was clear teams didn’t value him as highly as he expected.

However, Trent still demanded a trade even when it was clear he wouldn’t get the massive extension he desired, which makes me think he was still angry at the team beyond contractual reasons. Many fans are still bitter about the way that breakup occurred, particularly the contractual side of things. Trent’s agent didn’t handle himself well at all and pissed off a lot of fans with the things he said about how “mistreated” Trent was during that time (several of his claims being clearly false or exaggerated).

As a result, I think it’s more 50/50 how many fans wish him well. Some fans are most grateful for his time here and wish him well, but some see him as greedy and selfish and don’t appreciate the unnecessary drama he created by mixing medical issues with a contract dispute.

5) Score prediction, why, and do you think Washington ends up in the playoffs?

Well, Vegas has the 49ers as 3 point favorites with an over/under of 43.5 points, which would imply a score of something like 23-20 in favor of the 49ers. I generally think Vegas is better at predicting outcomes than me, so I’d go with that score projection. Having said that, I’d bet on Washington to cover those points or win. It sounds like the 49ers are weak on the interior of their OL, while the interior of our DL is a strength and should get a lot of pressure.

The 49ers have also been decimated by injury, whereas Washington is still relatively healthy. Alex Smith should also be an advantage over Nick Mullens. I think the biggest X-factor will be due to coaching, as nobody disputes how good Kyle Shanahan and Robert Saleh are on their respective sides of the ball. So I think either side could certainly win, but I think I’d give a bit of an edge to Washington.

I think it’s 50/50 whether or not Washington ends up in the playoffs. The Giants currently have the same record but won both of their games against us, which gives them the tiebreaker. Whether or not we win the division depends on how well the Giants do their own performance. They have a tougher schedule but honestly have looked like a better team for much of the season as well. If they get QB Daniel Jones back soon, I think they’ll go to the playoffs. If they don’t, I think we’ll go to the playoffs. It really comes down to that, and I don’t have a way to predict his injury-return timeline. We could also make it in as a wildcard, but that would require us running the table, which would be much harder.