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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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In addition to being an NFL player, Bryce Love can now call himself a Stanford graduate

In addition to being an NFL player, Bryce Love can now call himself a Stanford graduate

Bryce Love hopes he'll have the opportunity to carry many footballs in his NFL career. But this past weekend, the running back picked up something that'll be just as, if not more, valuable than the attempts he'll be getting on Sundays.

How's a college diploma from Stanford sound? Pretty solid, right?

Oh, how about a college diploma from Stanford in human biology? Yeah, probably something worth hanging up on the ol' fridge, huh?

Well, that very hard-earned and impressive degree is what Love is now in possession of:

Drafted by the Redskins in late-April and walking across the stage at Stanford in mid-June, Love is doing well for himself recently. He passed up the chance to enter the draft early to ensure he graduated, and now he has.

His college GPA isn't known, but once you find out his high school GPA was 4.5 (that's apparently possible) and add that to the fact that he was able to finish up school out west while also churning up yards for the Cardinal, you can imagine it was very, very good. And if his yards-per-carry average as a pro matches or exceeds it, then the Redskins will be thrilled.

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There's a competition brewing among the Redskins defensive linemen, per Daron Payne

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There's a competition brewing among the Redskins defensive linemen, per Daron Payne

If you find yourself looking for Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Matt Ioannidis, you really just need to find one of them. Odds are, if you locate one, the other two will be close by.

The second-year pro, third-year pro, and fourth-year pro have forged quite a bond on the Redskins' defensive line, which is easily the team's most promising unit going into 2019. The three guys share an appreciation for lifting really heavy weights and dropping opposing quarterbacks. 

As it turns out, that latter love is actually part of the inspiration behind a bet Payne, Allen and Ioannidis have queued up for the 2019 campaign. Payne revealed that while with Larry Michael on a recent episode of Redskins Nation.

"Me and Jon and Matt got a little competition right now on sacks and tackles," he said with a smile, but he ultimately didn't shed any light on what the competition's compensation will be.

Whatever the trio is playing for, it should be a close race.

Ryan Kerrigan led the 'Skins in sacks in 2018, but Allen (8), Ioannidis (7.5) and Payne (5) were second, third and fourth respectively. In terms of tackles, meanwhile, it went Allen (61), Payne (56) and then Ioannidis (31). 

Allen and Payne saw a ton of snaps last year while Ioannidis was used more in a rotational role, which limited his tackles. He's an insanely productive pass rusher, though, so he can make up some ground in the sacks/tackles bet by keeping that trend going. Any of them are a solid pick if you're trying to project who'll capture their title.

Payne, for one, expects to generate better numbers in his second go-round in the league.

"Of course," he responded when Michael asked if he left some sacks out there as a rookie. "Definitely did. I want to get a couple more."

In the team's offseason practices, he's already noticed that things are "coming easier," so perhaps he'll be able to record those extra takedowns he's looking for.

As mentioned earlier, you can make an easy case for Payne, Allen or Ioannidis to win their competition, but you won't know who that winner is until late December.

One thing you can already say, however? That the QBs and running backs they'll be chasing down are the losers in this thing. That much is already known.

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