Knowing Your Opponent: Washington

The 49ers head out the road for a second-straight week to face a 3-7 Washington team that's in desperate need of a win. Coming off consecutive losses, Robert Griffin and his team is focused on winning all of its remaining games to remain in the playoff hunt. Inside we take a long look at Washington.

Redskins' Statistics Through Week 11

Offense (rank)

Points per game: 24.6 (#13)

Yards per game: 412.1 (#6)

Passing Yards (per game): 256.9 (#11)

Rushing Yards (per game): ): 155.2 (#1)

3rd-Down Conversion Rate: 46.15 percent (#4)

Red Zone Scoring Rate (TDs): 60.61 percent (#7)

Defense (rank)

Points per game: 31.1 (#30)

Yards per game: 389.9 (#28)

Passing yards (per game): 274.9 (#26)

Rushing Yards (per game): 115 (#19)

Opponents 3rd-Down Conversion Rate: 36.97 percent (#13)

Opponents Red Zone Scoring Rate (TDs): 67.57 percent (#31)

NFC East Standings (record, division)

Philadelphia Eagles (6-5, 3-2)

Dallas Cowboys (5-5, 3-0)

New York Giants (4-6, 1-2)

Washington Redskins (3-7, 0-3)

Turmoil in D.C.

The Washington Redskins' chances at the postseason took a big hit over the last two weeks after losing games in Minnesota and Philadelphia to fall to 3-7 and into the cellar of the NFC East. With seven losses and six weeks remaining, Washington would have to win out to remain in the playoff conversation. But with games against the 49ers, Chiefs and surging Giants (twice), the team might have its eyes set on preparing for 2014.

It has been an eventful week in Washington with a whirlwind of controversy surrounding the team and quarterback Robert Griffin III. His postgame comments following last week's 24-16 loss in Philadelphia sparked debate from both the media and his teammates. Wideout Santana Moss was critical of his quarterback in an interview on local radio station 106.7 The Fan.

"If we're going to win games, we need to win with our guy saying ‘at the end of the day, I didn't make a play,' regardless of if it wasn't him. And that's how I feel. Because that's what we're out there to do. I'm not sitting here to tell you why it didn't happen, or who didn't make the play for me to make a play," Moss said in the interview.

Losing has a way to fuel angst in a locker room. The Redskins are 1-6 against teams at or above .500, which is unacceptable considering their stirring march to a division title last season after winning their final seven regular season games.

Healthier and Healthier at QB

Griffin struggled out of the gate after missing all the preseason while rehabbing his torn LCL suffered in January's divisional round loss to the Seattle Seahawks. His knee didn't look healthy early on, but his physicality that's makes him such a potent dual-threat quarterback has returned over the last few weeks.

"It would have been much better to have played these guys earlier in the season than now," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "This is game 11 and he's 11-weeks improved than he was in their opener earlier in the season. So, he's getting more and more confident with his knee."

Since the team's Week 5 bye, Griffin has averaged 45.5 rushing yards per game. Prior to the bye, that number was 18. But the passing game has been hit or miss all season. Griffin has thrown 14 touchdowns to 10 interceptions.

A Strong Running Attack

The Redskins are averaging 5.1 yards per rush to lead the NFL. Alfred Morris has picked up where he left off from his rookie season and is on pace to run for nearly 1,500 yards after netting 1,613 in 2012. Washington's multi-threat backfield is responsible for the league's best ground game that averages 155.2 yards each week.

Authored by Mike and his son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, Washington's offense is built around creating 3rd-and-shorts by getting good gains through the running attack on first and second down.

"They've got the zone scheme which they do a really good job running. They've run it forever…and then they mid in their pistol attack where there's some option game involved and they do a good job with that with Griffin," Fangio said.

"There's a lot of carryover to their option game to their regular running game from the O-line's perspective. So it's pretty easy for them to do both."

Washington will be dealing with injuries to some key players, however. Wideout Leonard Hankerson is out for the season after sustaining a torn LCL in last week's loss. That means former San Francisco receiver Josh Morgan will be inserted back into the starting lineup. Morgan has just 11 receptions on the year.

Tight end Jordan Reed is being treated for a concussion and will also be shelved Monday.

Reed has become one of Griffin's favorite pass catchers, getting targeted 60 times, the second-most behind wideout Pierre Garcon. Reed will be replaced by Fred Davis, who has struggled to get on the active 46 for most of the season.

A Defense to Blame

The Redskins' defense is having a season it would like to forget. It's allowing nearly 390 yards per game and eight yards per pass – the worst mark in the NFL. Opposing quarterbacks are completing more than 66 percent of their throws.

Outside of Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, Washington has had very few positive contributions from any of their defensive players. Their top three corners have combined to allow a 91.37 rating to quarterbacks when targeting their men in coverage. Their safeties have allowed eight touchdowns and made just three interceptions.

But in preparation, San Francisco's offensive coordinator Greg Roman still believes are there are tough individual challenges when facing this Redskins defense.

"I'd say there are things that jump out at you on screen, starts with their edge guys Orakpo and Kerrigan, any 3-4 defense really starts with those two outside backers and they've got two really good ones," Roman said.

*Statistics from Pro Football Focus were used in this report*


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