Washington Football

49ers know they face daunting task defending Brady

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49ers know they face daunting task defending Brady

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) San Francisco cornerback Tarell Brown turned off the Monday Night Football game as soon as Tom Brady and the Patriots jumped out to a big lead.

Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois tuned out around then, too. Same with defensive mate Ray McDonald, who was hungry and ready for some dinner.

``He's a big guy so you know he's going to eat,'' Francois said with a chuckle.

The 49ers defenders still saw plenty of Brady in that brief time they spent watching his team's 42-14 rout of fellow AFC power Houston to know exactly what they're up against Sunday night in New England.

Safety Donte Whitner can't wait.

``We're going to be able to see where we are as a defense,'' Whitner said. ``We understand who's going to have to win that football game, and we think it's going to be the defense. And we understand that their offense is going to try to control the football and get some big plays and put points on the board. And we can't allow that. So, we'll be ready.''

Former Patriots wideout Randy Moss didn't watch Monday's game at all. Didn't need to. He knows what Brady brings to the Patriots (10-3), who already have clinched their playoff spot and will try to stop San Francisco from securing a berth of its own Sunday in Foxborough, Mass.

A few preliminary observations of Brady from the Niners' locker room Tuesday:

Brown: ``He can make all the throws.''

McDonald: ``He's slingin' it.''

Francois: ``You've got a Hall of Famer playing in the league right now.''

Cornerback Perrish Cox: ``He's one of those confident quarterbacks that basically calls his own offense. ``

San Francisco (9-3-1) already has impressive wins against teams with big-time playmaking quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.

Still, no question that slowing down Brady on the prime-time stage is the biggest test yet for defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's group.

``Probably so,'' Moss said. ``It'll be a good one.''

The Patriots have won 20 straight home games in December. Brady has been instrumental in that.

The 35-year-old Brady went 21 of 35 and passed for 296 yards and four touchdowns against a typically stingy Texans defense Monday night. He has thrown a touchdown pass in 45 consecutive games, the third-longest such stretch in NFL history. He has 3,833 yards passing and 29 touchdowns this season with only four interceptions and a 104.2 passer rating.

``We've got to hang in there,'' McDonald said. ``We've got to gut it out.''

Only once before have the 49ers faced Brady, a 13th-year pro born and raised in the Bay Area town of San Mateo, some 15 minutes south of the Niners' home at Candlestick Park. Brady went 22 of 30 for 226 yards and two touchdowns with an interception in New England's 21-7 home win on Jan. 2, 2005.

That loss by San Francisco sent the Niners to a 2-14 record and earned them the No. 1 pick in the draft that spring. Their selection? Alex Smith, quarterback out of Utah. After leading San Francisco so close to the Super Bowl last season, he's now the backup to Colin Kaepernick.

The Niners are concerning themselves with only one quarterback at the moment - the other guy.

``He's more one of those laid-back, confident quarterbacks that basically you can tell his demeanor and know exactly what he's doing,'' Cox said.

Or so San Francisco hopes, to know what Brady is doing.

49ers linebacker Aldon Smith leads the NFL with 19 1/2 sacks and needs only three to match Michael Strahan's single-season record set in 2001 with the New York Giants - not that he is counting on anything coming easily against Brady and his outstanding offensive line.

``We've played elite quarterbacks the whole season, so it's just another one on the list,'' Smith said.

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh needs no introduction to Brady, a fellow Michigan man whose career the former NFL quarterback has followed.

``I have great respect for him,'' Harbaugh said, ``his career, his ability, his competiveness, all of his unique attributes that make him the great football player that he is.''

Notes: The 49ers placed DT and special teams regular Demarcus Dobbs on season-ending injured reserve after he injured his right knee in Sunday's 27-13 win against Miami. San Francisco now has two open spots on its 53-man roster after suspending RB Brandon Jacobs for the final three regular-season games on Monday. ``From the coaching standpoint, they don't want any distractions on the team,'' McDonald said. ``So, he (Jacobs) was being a distraction. They felt he was being a distraction, so they felt they needed to do something about it.''

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Redspears or not these uniform designs are a great option for Washington

Redspears or not these uniform designs are a great option for Washington

When looking at the endless amounts of fan concepts and designs out there for the Washington Football Team's next name and logo, it's important to remember that not every idea belongs to the name suggestion of the designer. 

Once Washington makes its final decision, you can bet they'll be looking at a number of different options, and if they want to take a look at the fans' work, they could take a Red Wolves logo and match it up with a Red Tails uniform concept and tweak both to match whatever name they choose. 

In that case, whatever name and logo they choose should have these uniforms, plain and simple. 

 

Mike Joseph created these uniforms as part of his Washington Redspears project and did an exceptional job mocking up a number of different modern uniform designs.

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Redspears isn't a likely name change due to reports saying the franchise plans to stay away from Native American imagery, but that doesn't mean we should ignore these designs.

 

These use the burgundy and gold really well and have a unique number font that has worked for NFL teams like the Ravens, Broncos, Bears, Titans and Steelers in the past. 

The great part about this design is it could be easily rebranded to a different. All the franchise would have to do is lose the spear logo and use whatever logo they settle upon. They could even keep the numbers on the helmet as they have currently. Everything else is versatile. 

Between the sleek design, use of colors and the unique number fonts, this has to be one of, if not the best fan-generated uniform mock-up out there. If the Washington Football team uses these but with a different team name and logo, it'd be hard to complain about that decision. 

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Recent numbers indicate just how hard it could be for Antonio Gandy-Golden to help as a rookie

Recent numbers indicate just how hard it could be for Antonio Gandy-Golden to help as a rookie

There were already some decent expectations placed on Antonio Gandy-Golden for 2020 — and then Kelvin Harmon went down. Now, the Day 3 selection is being labeled as someone who needs to really contribute to the Washington Football Team.

But is that too much to ask for a rookie who went on Saturday in the draft? Recent numbers indicate that answer may be yes.

From 2015 to 2019, 25 wide receivers were chosen in the fourth round, which is where Washington nabbed Gandy-Golden a few months ago. Here are some takeaways from looking back on how all of those guys performed in their first professional seasons:

  • Only one target topped 50 catches and 600 yards, and coincidentally enough, it was Jamison Crowder. Crowder caught 59 passes for 604 yards and two scores as a rookie for the Burgundy and Gold in 2015. The only other guy who came close to either of those marks was Antonio Callaway, who had 43 grabs for 586 yards and five touchdowns for Cleveland in 2018. Those are easily the two best performances by a fourth-round rookie wideout since 2015, so keep that in mind when discussing Gandy-Golden.
  • Out of that group of 25, 15 suited up for double-digit games for their teams during their first taste of the league. The average stat line for those 15 rookies was 17 receptions for 182 yards and one touchdown in about 14 contests. That's meager. 
  • Just nine out of the 25 recorded a touchdown catch as a rookie, and only four (Crowder, Callaway, DaeSean Hamilton and Malcom Mitchell) visited the end zone multiple times.

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So, judging solely off of that data, it would appear that Washington shouldn't be prepared to lean heavily Gandy-Golden. And once you combine that history with other factors, such as the huge transition he's about to make from Libery to the NFL and the very limited offseason he's had thus far, then the outlook for Gandy-Golden becomes even dimmer.

There is a super simple counter argument, however, at least when it comes to comparing him to his past fourth-round peers, and it has to do with his potential playing time.

While the 22-year-old has to fight through a pandemic, something none of the above rookies can relate to and something that could be detrimental to his early career, he also may be in line for a massive share of snaps right away. Most players who go off the board where Gandy-Golden did are usually worried about simply making the team; he, on the other hand, very well could be a starter across from Terry McLaurin in Week 1.

That alone means Gandy-Golden could end up having enough involvement in the offense to come up with a Crowder-like, impactful debut. In 2019, McLaurin far surpassed other third-round rookie receivers due largely to the amount of opportunity he got with Washington (his ridiculous talent was a bonus of course, too). Gandy-Golden is tracking on a similar path. 

A fairly general rule for any franchise is that it's not exactly prudent to need a Day 3 pass catcher to immediately act as one of your primary weapons. Stats from 2015 to 2019 seem to back up that general rule.

Every rule has an exception here or there, though. Maybe Gandy-Golden, with his outstanding physical traits and possibly featured role in 2020, will be that next exception and make all this math and comparing a totally moot issue. 

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