Game snapshot: 49ers vs. Redskins

KICKOFF: Saturday, 2:00 Pacific</p> SURFACE: Grass</p> TV: FOX, Kenny Albert, Brian Baldinger, Chris Myers</p> SERIES: San Francisco leads the all-time series 16-8-1, including 3-1 in playoff games. Those postseason contests included three while Washington was under Gibbs -- a Redskins win in the 1983 NFC Championship, a 49ers win in the 1990 divisional round, and a 49ers win in the 1992 divisional round, Gibbs' final game. San Francisco won the most recent meeting, 20-10 in 2002.</p>

2004 RANKINGS: Redskins: offense 29th (19th rush, 29th pass); defense 2nd (3rd rush, 4th pass). 49ers: offense 24th (30th rush, 20th pass); defense 15th (15th rush, 20th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Redskins have the league's third-best rush defense, so they should be able to stop RB Maurice Hicks and come after QB Ken Dorsey. The 49ers' 47 sacks allowed are the third-most in the league, so Dorsey will have to be prepared to get rid of the ball quickly. The game will likely hinge on Washington's offense, which has been showing more balance of late but is very inconsistent. Look for the 49ers to bring SS Tony Parrish up as an eighth run defender against RB Clinton Portis and dare QB Patrick Ramsey to move the ball through the air. CBs Shawntae Spencer and Dwaine Carpenter are improved and will need to hold their own in man coverage for the 49ers to have a shot.

FAST FACTS: Redskins: Are 4-0 when Portis rushes for at least 100 yards. ... Coach Joe Gibbs has a 33-12 (.733) career record in December. 49ers: Lead the series 16-8-1, including two wins in three postseason games against Gibbs. ... Are tied for first with an 83.3 fourth-down conversion percentage (10 of 12).



--- LB LaVar Arrington (knee) was upgraded to probable Thursday after practicing for the fourth time in two weeks. It remains unclear, however, how much action he'll get Saturday.

--- DE Demetric Evans (ankle) was upgraded to probable after practicing again Thursday.

--- WR Laveranues Coles (toe) practiced this week and is probable for the 49ers game.

--- C Cory Raymer (ankle) practiced this week and is probable for the game.

--- TE Robert Royal (back) practiced this week and is probable for the game.

--- WR James Thrash (hamstring) practiced this week and is probable for the game.


--- K Todd Peterson is perfect on field-goal attempts from 45 yards or less this season. Peterson is 15 of 15 from that range. The 11-year veteran is one of only four kickers in the NFL this season to accomplish such a feat. He has also connected on two field goals of 50 yards or greater.

--- RB Kevan Barlow will play in Saturday's game despite being listed on the team's injury report as "questionable," coach Dennis Erickson said. Barlow missed Wednesday's practice with loose cartilage in his knee. Barlow will not start, as first-year running back Maurice Hicks gets his second NFL start.

-- QB Tim Rattay will definitely not play Saturday against the Redskins, and if he is able to play Dec. 26 against Buffalo it will be as the backup or No. 3, Erickson said. Rattay has a partially torn plantar fascia, under his right foot. It's possible he could be out for the remainder of the season because if he tears more of his plantar fascia it could require a six-month rehabilitation.

--- LT Kwame Harris has performed very well since returning to the starting lineup Dec. 5 against the Rams. Harris, the team's best run-blocker, is a key member of the team's run game. Many players believe the team started to show signs of being better in the run game in the Rams game.

--- P Andy Lee has a 41.6-yard average, with a net 35.2. He ranks 22nd and 21st in the league in those statistical categories. However, he is on pace for the 49ers' best punting average since Reggie Roby (41.9) in 1998.



The Redskins' kicking woes are back in full-force.

A club that shuffled kickers with embarrassing regularity from 2000 to 2002 once again has suffered a loss at the position. John Hall was placed on injured reserve this week with a torn quadriceps muscle, the latest in a string of muscle difficulties he battled this season.

Hall was supposed to bring stability to the kicker position when he signed a five-year, $7.1 million contract in 2003. And he performed well in one season under coach Steve Spurrier, especially when considering how frequently Spurrier used Hall on field goals of 50 or more yards.

But this year Hall wasn't able to stay healthy. He suffered a hamstring strain in the opener, then strained his other hamstring, then missed five games due to a groin strain, then came down with the quadriceps tear. At no point in 2004 did Hall kick with his characteristic leg strength.

Washington used Swede Ola Kimrin during Hall's five-game absence but was unable to sign Kimrin this time because Kimrin had returned to Sweden and couldn't get his visa renewed.

Instead, Jeff Chandler was signed. It remains to be seen whether Chandler's arrival signals the start of a new revolving door - Washington actually used five kickers in 2000 - or whether he's able to hold down the post for the remaining three games.


Barlow lost his starting job for at least one game, but he will still play a major role against the Redskins, Erickson said.

Barlow did not practice Wednesday after his knee locked up from loose cartilage. He returned to practice on Thursday after an MRI examination did not show extension damage and he will play Saturday as a backup to starter Maurice Hicks.

Hicks practiced Wednesday and Thursday and will be able to play with torn cartilage in the left side of his ribcage. Hicks is banged-up, so Barlow has to be ready to go, Erickson said.

Barlow was not pleased this week when he heard Hicks would be getting his second start. While Barlow was out with a concussion, Hicks took advantage of the opportunity, rushing for 139 yards on 34 carries against the Arizona Cardinals.

But Barlow said he does not believe he should lose his starting job because of an injury.

"Yeah, I was very disappointed," Barlow said. "I didn't agree with that. Do I want to be the starter? Do I deserve to be the starter? I think I deserve to be the starter."

Erickson thinks differently. Hicks will get his second NFL start because Erickson believes he deserves it.

"(It's) just how he played," Erickson said. "He had an opportunity, he took advantage of it. Kevan missed last week because of the concussion. They are both going to play. It's just my opinion, and that's the one that counts."

Hicks also caught five passes for 29 yards against the Cardinals, tying a team record for most touches in a game.

"He's tough," Erickson said of Hicks. "He played hurt. His character is beyond just how he plays. He's been a hard worker, but how he played on Sunday says a lot for him. Besides that, he has good quickness in some different things that he can do."

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