The 49ers lost a game where Washington’s defense outscored their offense, Washington punted on more than half of their possessions, and Dwayne Haskins played two quarters. All without Washington scoring an offensive touchdown.
A 23-15 loss to the NFC East-leading Washington Football Team dropped the 49ers’ record to 5-8, two games back of the Arizona Cardinals (7-6), the No. 7 seed in the conference. The 49ers will play against the Cardinals in Week 16, but they’ll need a lot of help to remain in the playoff picture by then.
At best, the 11th-seeded 49ers can end the season with an 8-8 record. Every team between them and the Cardinals, save for the 10th-seeded Detroit Lions, could still finish the season with (at least) a 9-7 record. The Chicago Bears (6-7; No. 9 seed) and Minnesota Vikings (6-7; No. 8) play each other next week, while the Cardinals host the Philadelphia Eagles (4-8-1). The 49ers need a win against the Dallas Cowboys (4-9) in order to stay alive in the playoff hunt for another week, and significant help to be anything but a long shot.
With the loss to Washington, the 49ers (5-8) would hold the 12th pick in the draft if the season ended today. They are only one game ahead of the Cowboys (4-9), who currently hold the fifth pick and will face San Francisco in Dallas next week. Plenty could change in the final three weeks of the regular season, as there currently are six NFL teams with four wins, and four teams with five victories each.
- Dallas Cowboys (4-9)
- Carolina Panthers (4-9)
- Atlanta Falcons (4-9)
- Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans (4-9))
- Philadelphia Eagles (4-8-1)
- NY Giants (5-8)
- Detroit Lions (5-8)
- San Francisco 49ers (5-8)
- Denver Broncos (5-8)
Ron Rivera: Alex Smith strained calf in Washington’s win over 49ers
Ron Rivera told reporters after the game that Smith specifically experienced some muscle tightness in his calf, and the team kept him out of the game “out of an abundance of caution,” per The Washington Post.
Halftime X-rays were negative, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported. Smith will be checked again on Monday morning and has been diagnosed with a calf strain that seems “somewhat mild,” Rapoport added.
“Alex developed some tightness and muscle soreness pushing off the right leg,” Rivera said.
Rivera added that Smith could have returned to action in an emergency situation, and that the injury essentially was a calf strain, per The Post.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: F-MINUS.
They gave up 12 quarterback hits. Unacceptable. The 49ers never would have let Garoppolo or a young first-round pick take that much punishment. I can’t believe Mullens made it through the game. And after taking a beating and committing two turnovers that led to 14 points for Washington, Mullens had the 49ers in position to tie the game late. And then, he completed a 22-yard pass to Bourne on third and 2 on the final drive. But it didn’t count, because Mike freaking McGlinchey got beat by Montez Sweat and committed a holding penalty. And then, two plays later on fourth and 12, McGlinchey got walked straight back to the quarterback, and Mullens had to throw a short pass over the middle which didn’t pick up the first down. And the 49ers lost.
Chase Young, defense helps vault Washington Football Team into first place in NFC East
But Young dominated against the 49ers. In the first half, he forced a fumble that led to a field goal, and on the ensuing possession, he returned a fumble 47 yards for a touchdown. He deflected one pass and batted down a key third-down pass in the fourth quarter.
Washington did not score an offensive touchdown Sunday. Rookie safety Kamren Curl, a seventh-round draft pick, returned a third-quarter interception 47 yards for a touchdown.
Washington needed the defensive scores because its offense couldn’t generate much of an attack. It was missing running back Antonio Gibson, and then Smith played only in the first half because of the calf injury. Smith completed 8 of 19 passes for 57 yards.