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:
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.