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Need to Know: Five running backs who could be on the Redskins' radar post-combine

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Need to Know: Five running backs who could be on the Redskins' radar post-combine

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 4, 11 days before NFL free agency starts.  

Five running back draft targets for the Redskins

Doug Williams didn’t just tip the Redskins’ hand when talking to the media at the NFL Combine last week; he practically laid the cards on the table when it came to upgrading the team’s running back position.

He didn’t completely rule out signing a veteran free agent back but the focus clearly is on the draft. Williams talked about how deep the draft is at the position.

“With this draft and what you already have, you get one in second, fourth round, third round, that’s a pretty good running back to go with what you already have,” he said.

While you have to take what is said at the combine with a giant grain of salt, let’s take Williams at his word and look for some good running backs who might be available in rounds 2-4. Although the Redskins don’t have a third-round pick they could acquire one in a trade.

Sony Michel, Georgia—The four-year player did not create much buzz with his 4.54 time in the 40; that placed ninth among running backs. However, he has never relied on speed, averaging 7.9 yards per carry as a senior with his power, shiftiness, and being able to pick the best path.

Rashaad Penny, San Diego St.—You may not have seen much of Penny if you live on the East coast as the Aztecs were not part of the Saturday afternoon or prime time TV fare. But you should learn more about him. Penny led the nation in rushing with 2,248 yards and he has the ideal size (5-11, 220) to be an every-down back at the next level. His 4.46 in the 40 was fourth among running backs at the combine.

Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—The SEC offensive player of the year will wait and run the 40 at his pro day. He did do most of the other drills including an impressive 40-inch vertical jump. Johnson is good a shifting gears and he can deliver punishment to his tacklers. I’ve seen him rated as anywhere from a first to a fourth-round pick so we will have to see when he is available.

Ronald Jones, USC—He doesn’t have ideal size (5-11, 200) but he could be the key player in the “by committee” approach at running back that Williams talked about. He has excellent running instincts, with a natural ability to skirt the line and then burst forward when the finds an opening. His 4.65 time in the 40 was well back in the pack but he plays plenty fast enough.

Derrius Guice, LSU—You might expect Guice and Jones to be gone by the time the Redskins’ second-round pick comes up. But the depth of the running back group just might keep these late-first round talents around until the Redskins’ second-round pick goes on the clock since teams know that if they miss out on one of these guys there are others to be had later. Guice is a good blend of speed (4.49 in the 40) and sheer running ability.

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 43
—NFL Draft (4/26) 53
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 189

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49ers seal rainy victory over Redskins with slip-n-slide celebration

49ers seal rainy victory over Redskins with slip-n-slide celebration

After coming across the country and holding the Redskins scoreless, the 49ers celebrated their victory over Washington in the most appropriate way possible.

In a rain-fulfilled contest that featured poor field conditions, including multiple puddles throughout the playing surface at FedExField, several players on both sides slipped constantly on Sunday. 

On the last play of the game with a San Francisco victory just seconds away, 49ers rookie Nick Bosa sacked Redskins quarterback Case Keenum as the clock winded down. Bosa celebrated with a headfirst slide across the grass, fully embracing the poor field conditions that affected both sides all afternoon long.

But as soon as Bosa hit the turf, several of his 49ers teammates joined him in the act. All of a sudden, dozens of white jerseys were sliding across the wet grass, as the two teams began to commemorate postgame.

"It was a lot of fun. It was definitely worth it," 49ers defensive end Deforest Buckner said. "I saw Bosa out there sliding, so I said, 'Let's do it.' Everybody else started sliding around and everything. It was like a bunch of little kids out there. That's part of the game, having fun. Right now, we're having a lot of fun."

Even head coach Kyle Shanahan, who was likely happier about this victory than many others, considered joining in.

"I did think about it," Shanahan said. "But I don't think I would have done it right."

The head coach wasn't the only 49er to sit the celebration out.

"I spent plenty of time getting wet in the game," tight end George Kittle said. "I let other guys do [the celebration] for me."

"I saw those guys running and diving on the ground," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "I was like, I got out of this one healthy, so I'm just going to go. I'm just going to observe and then jog to the sideline, but it was fun. It was the 'Mud Bowl 2019 Champions.'"

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo also sat the celebration out, but not by choice.

"I missed the slide. I was upset about that," he said.

After holding the Redskins to zero points and just 154 total yards, the 49ers deserved to celebrate in any way they wanted. And they did just that.

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49ers coach Kyle Shanahan gets his revenge on Redskins, gives dad, Mike, the game ball

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan gets his revenge on Redskins, gives dad, Mike, the game ball

It is personal for Kyle Shanahan. It always will be. 

The former Redskins offensive coordinator, who served in that position under his dad, Mike, for four years from 2010-2013, and helped Washington win an NFC East title in 2012, says he moved on long ago from the traumatic end here. 

The Shanahans were fired after a miserable 3-13 season where they sniped with upper management and their young star quarterback Robert Griffin III as things fell apart on the field. 

On Sunday, Kyle Shanahan returned to FedEx Field for the second time since taking over the 49ers in 2017. They lost that initial return game here in his first year with a rebuilding roster. But it was gratifying nonetheless to leave with a 9-0 win this time. According to 49ers players, he even gave the game ball to his dad.   

The 49ers are 6-0 and headed toward the playoffs. The Redskins are 1-6, fired coach Jay Gruden, the man who replaced the Shanahans, and are starting over. Again. Shanahan might try to keep the personal out of it, but a small smile creased his face when asked about the irony.

“I'm always a little more sensitive to this because of what I went through with my dad here,” Kyle Shanahan said. “It’s always nice to get the win. But it definitely had nothing to do with the game, nothing to do with the score. You always want to take care of things the right way when you're bothered by some things that happened to a family member."

Shanahan tried to say all the right things during his mid-week conference call with Washington reporters. It was NOT personal. He’d been back to FedEx Field before and lost. He’d been to other places he’d coached before and played without strong emotions. He’s moved on with his life and so has the family. 

But there will always be a little part of the Shanahans that will revel in beating the Redskins. Mike Shanahan doesn’t get the game ball if they’ve totally moved on. They never felt everyone was on the same page during their tenure here. The issues with drafting and developing Robert Griffin III are well told at this point. 

The Shanahans certainly deserve a fair share of criticism for what happened in Washington. The overall record was 24-41, including that lone playoff loss to Seattle in 2012, and a change had to be made by owner Dan Snyder and team president Bruce Allen. Things had turned toxic by the end - even if the staff had three future NFL head coaches as assistants. 

But each Shanahan has had success in other places during their careers as NFL coaches, and Kyle is riding high now with a talented young team that hasn’t lost yet. At 1-6, with yet another coach fired and more change on the horizon, the Redskins remain lost in the wilderness. 

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