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Instant Analysis: Cousins, Redskins defense closes the door on near-loss to winless 49ers

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Instant Analysis: Cousins, Redskins defense closes the door on near-loss to winless 49ers

The Redskins didn't make it easy on themselves in Week 6 against the 49ers.

After taking a commanding 17-0 lead in the second quarter, the 49ers made a quarterback change, swapping in C.J. beathard for Brian Hoyer.

The 49ers proceeded to score at the end of the first half, and then again off a bizarre Vernon Davis fumble. But new dad Kirk Cousins wouldn't let his team falter in his first game as a proud papa.

Here are my observations made during the Redskins’ tense 26-24 win over the 49ers:

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First quarter

— The Redskins rolled to a touchdown on their opening drive as Jay Gruden opened up the playbook a bit. A jet sweep by Jamison Crowder started things off and the Redskins got good chunks of yardage on screens to Chris Thompson, who started at running back, and Samaje Perine. The score came on a 16-yard strike over the middle from Kirk Cousins to Josh Doctson. Even that play was something of a departure from the norm as Doctson had only been targeted six times coming into the game.

— The Redskins played solid defense on the Niners’ first series. San Francisco got a first down on a penalty but they went three and out after that.

— A three and out on the 49ers second possession ended with Preston Smith and Matt Ioannidis splitting a sack of Brian Hoyer. At this point the 49ers have run eight plays and they have six net yards. Smith now has at least half a sack in every game this season.

Second quarter

— Redskins had a golden opportunity starting from their 36 near the end of the first quarter. They lost nine yards on a first-down play from the San Francisco 40. But Jordan Reed made his first two receptions of the game, good for 10 and 14 yards and a first down. The past couple of years, being that far behind the sticks would be a near-automatic punt.

— That drive got down to third and one at the three. Cousins faked a handoff to Perine and then as the defense ignored him, tossed to the back on a swing route. Perine lunged the last yard and a half into the end zone. The drive had three runs and seven passes.

— The insertion of rookie C.J. Beathard (Bobby’s grandson) at QB seemed to spark the 49ers offense as they picked up two quick first downs on a pass and on a run. But a dropped third-down pass stopped the momentum. The Redskins were a little lucky there.

— I’m not sure if the Redskins are ever going to be able to go easy on using Chris Thompson. On second and 25 after a penalty, he took a screen pass and picked his way into the open and bolted for 39 yards. The offense stalled and they settled for a 48-yard Dustin Hopkins field goal to make it 17-0.

— Beathard again got the offense rolling. Passes gaining 20, 20, and 12 yards got the 49ers into the red zone. Carlos Hyde ran it in on fourth down at the one and it looks like a new ballgame at 17-7.

Third quarter

— The Redskins’ pass rush has slowed down considerably and Beathard is marching the 49ers down the field. A Kerrigan sack for a loss of 11 yard blunted the momentum but the 49ers did muster a 52-yard field goal to make it one-score game. Kyle Shanahan is calling quick passes to protect Beathard so it will be important to keep them on third and long.

— The Redskins offense continued to sputter on their first possession of the second half and a 39-yard punt return set up the 49ers at midfield midway through the quarter. That resulted in a missed field goal.

—On the first play after the miss, however, Vernon Davis fumbled and the ball was returned to the Redskins one. Carlos Hyde ran it in on the next play and Washington’s 17-0 lead was gone. After looking like the new Redskins early on, they now looked like the team that always plays down to the level of the competition.

Fourth quarter

— The Redskins got a sense of urgency on offense after the 49ers tied the game. Cousins scrambled up the middle for 18 yards and threw to Ryan Grant for 18 more. A pass to Thompson converted a third and long. Cousins to Grant, who did some nice footwork down the sideline, got them into the red zone. On third and goal at the three, But after getting first and goal at the four they went no further and Hopkins booted a go-head three-pointer.

— Vernon Davis does it again. He takes a pass in the seam from Cousins and cuts across the field, rolling all the way down to the 22 yard line for a gain of 51. The man is 33 and plays like he’s 23. Cousins got the score from seven yards out on a read option that sent him untouched into the end zone. The PAT was missed but the Redskins had a two-score lead with 3:28 left.

— The 49ers were not done. Beathard launched a 45-yard touchdown pass to former Redskin Aldrick Robinson and they were within a field goal of taking the lead at the two-minute warning. Their TD drive consumed just 1:36.

—Fabian Moreau recovered the onside kick. But three Perine runs gained only six yards and the 49ers had a chance to drive for the winning field goal. Why not a bootleg option by Cousins? It had a better chance of success than a Perine run.

—A Garçon catch while he landed on his knee just inbounds got the 49ers a first down at the 40 with 28 seconds left. An offensive pass interference on Garçon took away 10. On fourth and 20 at midfield with nine second left, Fuller picked off Beathard’s pass near the sideline to end the sweaty victory.

RELATED: Must See Photos: NFL Week 6, Redskins 26 San Francisco 2

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Where's Galette, Cousins' future

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Where's Galette, Cousins' future

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, November 18, one day before the Washington Redskins play the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes Benz Superdome.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: AM walkthrough and then travel to New Orleans. No media availability.

Days until:

—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 6
—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 13
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/19) 23

Quick Redskins news hits

C Spencer Long tried to play last week and he couldn’t make it more than a dozen snaps before sitting down for the rest of the day. He is out against the Seahawks tomorrow.

With Brian Quick and Ryan Grant questionable with concussions and Terrelle Pryor out with an ankle injury, the Redskins are down to three healthy wide receivers. While Quick and Grant might play, the depth chart could have Doctson, Crowder, and Harris on it.

The Redskins week that was

2 reasons Redskins didn't trade Terrelle Pryor—If you want to know why the deal with the Browns didn’t happen, follow the money. Between his signing bonus and the half of the year’s salary, the Redskins have already paid $4.5 million. Although he hasn’t been nearly as productive as they hoped he would be, there was no point in letting him go to save $1.5 million unless they got a second-day draft pick, or maybe a fourth, in return. See that Jay Gruden said that he didn’t hear of the proposed trade, talks must not have become too serious.

Remember Junior Galette? The Redskins don't seem to—As with Pryor, everyone is waiting for Galette to break out. But unlike Pryor, he’s not an expensive unproductive player. He’s making the veteran minimum. Against the Vikings, he played just 19 snaps. Perhaps a return to New Orleans for a game against his old team will spark a sack or two.

Recent comments from Cousins may hint at future in D.C.—Cousins has been big on making statements about the long-term future with the Redskins (read the post for specifics). That doesn’t mean that it’s a lock that he stays in town. But it should give some pause to those who believe that it is a lock that he will be in another uniform when 2018 or, at the latest, 2019 rolls around. He has never been inclined to go to the highest bidder and if the Redskins make a competitive offer that delivers what he wants he could well stick around.

How the Vikings scored 21 unanswered points against the Redskins—The 21-0 run in about seven minutes of game time that the Vikings used to make a competitive game at FedEx Field a rout was a combination of good offense by the Vikings and bad defense and offense by the Redskins. They couldn’t cover Adam Thielen on either drive. Cousins threw an interception off of his back foot and that set up the middle of the three touchdowns. If the Redskins end the season a game out of a playoff spot that seven-minute stretch will be one of the big reasons why they failed to make it.

Player one-liners, defense— Usually, the offensive edition of the player one-liners tends to be the most popular but this week it was the defense that drew the most interest. The defensive player I’m going to keep an eye on the most in the last seven games is rookie safety Montae Nicholson. He has the speed and hard hitting ability that the secondary needs. When asked what will happen when Nicholson is healthy, Jay Gruden said without hesitation that he is the starter. Nicholson’s health will be important for the defense down the stretch. DeAngelo Hall is better suited to a part-time role at this stage of his career.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Redskins getting thin at receiver with two more injured wideouts out on Sunday

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins getting thin at receiver with two more injured wideouts out on Sunday

In August, Redskins fans would freak out if they heard Jordan Reed and Terrelle Pryor would both miss a November game.

In November, that news doesn’t carry much worry.

Washington coach Jay Gruden announced that Reed and Pryor, along with center Spencer Long, won’t play Sunday against the Saints.

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Reed hasn’t played in a few weeks as he is dealing with a hamstring injury. It seemed he might have returned last week before a setback slowed down his progress.

In his place, Vernon Davis has proved to be a sturdy backup capable of some big games.

Long injured his knee and while he played last week, he did not practice this week.

Not having Pryor is a bit of a surprise. His ankle injury popped up this week and he will see a specialist next week to examine the joint. In the middle of a disappointing season, the Redskins offense won’t lose much with his absence.

Elsewhere on the injury list, a number of players will be questionable for Sunday’s contest against the 7-2 Saints.

Perhaps most important, Trent Williams is questionable but will probably play.

MORE ON THE REDSKINS: FIVE PLAYERS UNDER PRESSURE

Receivers Ryan Grant and Brian Quick are expected to play after undergoing concussion protocol, but that will leave the Redskins with only three fully healthy wideouts: Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Maurice Harris.