Reading the keys: 49ers/Redskins

Here's how the 49ers fared on Sunday in keys to the game identified by NinersDigest before San Francisco's 19-11 victory over the Washington Redskins, giving the Niners their first 7-1 start and six-game winning streak since 1997 while increasing their lead to five games in the NFC West at midseason.

The usual dose of Frank Gore
YES:
Washington got a heavy dose of that, all right. Gore broke a tackle and ran over Redskins defenders for a 12-yard gain on San Francisco's first offensive play, and that set the tone of the game as the Niners controlled the action with Gore breaking runs to keep the offense moving. Gore had 65 yards rushing on just seven carries by halftime, and he finished with a game-high 107 yards on the ground, averaging 5.6 yards a pop. In the process, Gore became the first player in franchise history to rush for 100 yards or more in five consecutive games, giving him his 29th career 100-yard game. Gore peeled off a 27-yard run and did his usual grinding between the tackles. "It was a tough hundred," Niners coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He was just doing what Frank does. It was a consummate team 100."

Another beatdown of Beck
YES:
It wasn't the 10-sack beating Washington quarterback John Beck took last week against the Buffalo Bills, but the 49ers put effective pressure on him and hit him six times while sacking him once. Beck was forced to hurry several of his throws and the Washington offense never put together an effective scoring drive until its final possession of the game late in the fourth quarter, when the Niners were playing prevent defense with a 19-3 lead. Beck had to move around and throw on the run throughout the afternoon to avoid San Francisco's consistent pressure, and he also was forced into an interception. A telling figure was that 17 of Beck's passes were dump-offs targeted to running back Roy Helu.

The best Davis
YES:
Fred Davis finished with four receptions for 42 yards and Vernon Davis had four catches for 41 yards, but Vernon Davis clearly was the best Davis tight end on the field with his blocking and timely receptions helping the Niners move the football with a balanced offense. All of Fred Davis' receptions came in the final 6:10 of the game when the San Francisco defense was giving the Redskins the underneath routes. When Washington really needed Davis – the Redskins' leading receiver who had 20 receptions in the Redskins' past three games – Davis came up with blanks on each of the first three times he was targeted during the first three quarters. That included Davis dropping a third-down pass on which he would have converted the first down. Davis also looked weak when Dashon Goldson simply was more physical in beating him to the football on Goldson's interception late in the first quarter that set up San Francisco's first points of the afternoon.

The run stops here
YES:
Rookie halfback Roy Helu busted a 16-yard run over the right side on the game's first play from scrimmage… then was shut down the rest of the afternoon, gaining just 25 yards on nine carries the rest of the way. After Helu's initial burst, the Redskins went nowhere on the ground – finishing with 52 yards rushing on 15 carries, a 3.5 average – then had to give up trying after falling behind 13-3 at halftime. The Redskins ran the ball just three times in the second half, when Helu had just one carry for one yard. In the process, the NFL's No. 1 rushing defense strengthened its hold on that position, running its league-best streak to 30 consecutive games of not allowing a 100-yard rusher.

More big plays to San Francisco wideouts
NO:
This was not in the 49ers' game plan as San Francisco did not attempt one pass deep down the field the entire afternoon. Starting wideouts Michael Crabtree and Braylon Edwards were effective, however, combining to catch seven of the eight passes thrown their way for 81 yards, with Crabtree recording a 21-yard reception and Edwards delivering a punishing shoulder pad to DeAngelo Hall that send the Redskins' cornerback flying on Edwards' 24-yard catch-and-run. Throw in a 14-yard catch by Ted Ginn and a 12-yarder by Kyle Williams, and San Francisco wideouts caught 9 of the 11 passes thrown their way for 107 yards.

Contain OLBs Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan on the edges
YES:
Orakpo and Kerrigan each had one of Washington's two sacks and each also had two of Washington's seven hits on quarterback Alex Smith. They also combined for 11 tackles, but that was the extent of their damage and they did nothing to sway the game in Washington's favor, or to get the Redskins back in the game after they fell behind by double digits in the first half.

Keep a hat on London Fletcher
YES:
The intense middle linebacker finished with 10 tackles, but that was half of his total from Washington's previous game, and many of Fletcher's stops came after 49ers' ball carriers had reached the second level. Fletcher did little to slow down a San Francisco running game that churned for 138 yards on the ground and averaged 4.3 yards a carry, and that's because San Francisco blockers were able to get to him before Fletcher got to the football more times than not.

Win field position with special teams
YES:
The 49ers got their usual stellar effort from their special teams units to win this battle decisively. How decisively? Well, they were at least twice as good as San Francisco's average starting field position on its 12 possessions was its own 40-yard line. Washington's average starting position on its 12 possessions was its own 21-yard line. Washington started just one drive outside its 28-yard line and just one of its first nine drives outside its 21. Andy Lee dropped two punts inside the Washington 9-yard line and the Redskins had zero yards on two punt returns.


Niners Digest Top Stories