49ers takeaways: What we learned in sloppy 9-0 win over Washington

49ers takeaways: What we learned in sloppy 9-0 win over Washington


LANDOVER, Md. -- Nothing came easy for the 49ers on Sunday, who entered Week 7 as the NFC’s only unbeaten team.

In a sloppy game that resembled the field conditions at FedEx Field, the 49ers did just enough to pick up their sixth victory to open the season with a 9-0 win over Washington.

Here are three takeaways from the 49ers’ victory. 

The defense leads the way ... again

The 49ers’ defense continues to lead the way.

On a rain-soaked day, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s unit kept the 49ers in the game with another strong showing.

For the second week in a row, the 49ers had problems stopping the run on the first drive of the game. Washington put together a 60-yard drive that lasted 8 minutes, 14 seconds. And for the second week in a row, the defense came back strong and dominated the rest of the way.

Arik Armstead and Dee Ford registered sacks, and so did Nick Bosa on the game's final play. In all, the rookie had four tackles for losses.

The big play came near the end of the third quarter when linebacker Kwon Alexander stripped Washington running back Adrian Peterson and defensive tackle Jullian Taylor made the recovery at the 49ers’ 41-yard line.

Helps on way for kicking game

When Robbie Gould hooked a 45-yard field goal attempt to the left in the first half, it was his career-worst seventh missed field goal of the season. And the 49ers are not even at the midway point of the season, yet.

Gould has struggled this season, making 11 of 18 attempts after signing a four-year, $19 million contract extension in the offseason. Gould made kicks on Sunday from 28, 22 and 29 yards.

It is difficult to pinpoint the reason for Gould’s struggles, but the fact that the club has gone through three long-snappers could have contributed to the issues in the kicking game. The 49ers should finally have some stability in that area beginning next week.

Kyle Nelson, the team’s long-snapper since the 2014 season, is eligible for reinstatement after serving a 10-game suspension over two seasons for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

[DC PERSPECTIVE: Weather only real winner between 49ers and Washington]

Losses on offense start to show

The 49ers had a difficult time gaining their footing on offense Sunday.

The offense struggled to function in the constant downpour without starting fullback Kyle Juszczyk, and offensive tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo did not have much time to throw in the first half. He completed just three of 10 pass attempts for 10 yards and was sacked once. Garoppolo opened the second half with a 28-yard pass to Kendrick Bourne, but that drive ended on a fourth-down interception.

On a fourth-and-4 play from the Washington 36, Garoppolo lofted a pass to Dante Pettis on a corner route. Washington safety Troy Apke ranged from the deep middle to make the interception. He returned it 33 yards, but the 49ers defense didn’t allow Washington to get much closer.

Ex-49ers first-round pick Joshua Garnett cut by Lions after six months

Ex-49ers first-round pick Joshua Garnett cut by Lions after six months

Josh Garnett's NFL career has hit another snag.

The former 49ers first-round pick was cut by the Detroit Lions over the weekend as the team reduces the roster to 80 players. Garnett signed with Detroit in February after spending the 2019 season out of the NFL.

San Francisco traded up to select Garnett at No. 28 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, as the Stanford product was one of the nation's top offensive lineman. Garnett won the Outland Trophy in his senior season with the Cardinal, given annually to the NCAA's best interior lineman.

[RELATED: McGlinchey hopes 49ers, NFL players hold selves accountable]

Garnett started 11 games as a rookie with the 49ers, but was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury just prior to the start of the 2017 season. Garnett was unable to secure a starting spot in 2018 and played just seven games.

After denying his fifth-year option, the 49ers made Garnett one of the organization's final cuts before the 2019 campaign.

Just 26 years old, it remains to be seen where Garnett might find his next home in the NFL.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

49ers' Mike McGlinchey hopes NFL players hold themselves accountable

49ers' Mike McGlinchey hopes NFL players hold themselves accountable

The 49ers are scheduled to open the 2020 NFL season on Sept. 13 against the Arizona Cardinals.

They will compete head-to-head against the teams on their 16-game regular-season schedule, but 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey also is mindful that all players – even those on different teams – are on the same side in trying to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Typically, almost anything goes in the midst of a pileup at the line of scrimmage, where the same defensive linemen and offensive linemen might be waging one-on-one battles in close quarters for more than 60 snaps a game.

This season, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, more might be at stake on game days than just the outcome of a football game.

“You really hope guys are really pros about everything that’s going on this season because it’s not just your teammates and your teammates’ families,” McGlinchey said Monday in a video call with Bay Area reporters. “Once you start playing games, you’re affecting the entire league at that point.

“Hopefully, everybody can have the discipline and control and the accountability to one another that we can make this thing move as smoothly as possible, especially in the trenches when we are up close and personal.”

[RELATEDHow Jimmy Garoppolo, Trent Williams feel about fan-less games]

The hopes of the NFL being able to carry out an entire season will be contingent on teams reducing the spread of the virus. Oakley has developed a clear plastic face shield designed to block the direct path of droplets while allowing for airflow and soundwaves for communication.

McGlinchey said he will try it out at some point in training camp once helmets are allowed during practices, but he will not switch to the new protective device if he believes it hinders his ability to breathe.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]