This is the 11th of a 16-part series where Hog Heaven looks at each game on the Washington Redskins 2013 schedule. We are seven days away from Washington’s first preseason game.
Monday, Nov 25 – 49ers at Redskins
Quarterback Match-up: The premise for these preseason projections is based on quarterback comparison. Cold Hard Football Facts (CHFF), Football Outsiders (FO) and other stat masters point to the correlation between wins and the passer rating differential of the opposing quarterbacks.
The QB match-up in this game is problematic. Game history for both Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick is thin. RGIII has 15 starts, Kaepernick but seven. Kaepernick has a higher rating than Griffin on ESPN’s Total QBR (76.79 vs. 71.41). Griffin has the higher Advanced Passer Rating than Kaepernick (122 vs. 117) as shown on Pro Football Reference.
QB rating differential offers a clue going into a game, but what counts is the differential as the game unfolds. Quarterbacks don’t face each other. They face defenses. The RG3skins outscored everybody they played in the last seven games of 2012. They will do the same this year against most teams. It’s why we think the Redskins could be 7-3 going into this contest.
That does not fly with San Francisco. The 49ers have the best defense and specifically the best linebacker corps the ‘Skins will see all season. The Redskins defense is flawed. Kaepernick will have the easier time against Washington’s defense than Griffin will have against ‘Frisco’s D. The odds favor Kaepernick.
Griffin and Kaepernick are the two leading examples of Next Gen duel-threat QBs. That’s why this game is on Monday Night Football. It’s going to be one whale of a show.
Greg Roman vs. Jim Haslett: Man, Greg Roman has worked with all the best people. In 2004, Roman was the Texans QB coach where he helped David Carr, DAVID CARR, to have a career year. He was the assistant line coach for the 2006 13-3 Ravens. Baltimore allowed a mere 17 sacks of Steve McNair that year. Then he joined Jim Harbaugh’s coaching staff at Stanford where the Cardinal reached new offensive heights with Andrew Luck at quarterback. Good things happen where ever Roman goes.
The ‘Niners present confounding problems for Jim Haslett. Kaepernick may be young. Maybe you can fool him every now and again, but Kaepernick does not have to do much to win, just hand off to Frank Gore, throw to Vernon Davis and Anquan Bolden and avoid mistakes.
But wait, there’s more.
Michael Crabtree could be back on the active roster after suffering a torn Achilles in May.
Haslett is inclined to blitz to create pass rush pressure. Pass pressure is precisely what you do not do to an option quarterback who can throw an accurate ball, especially to a possession receiver like Bolden or to a big play end like Davis. A 3-4 alignment is the right defense to throw at San Francisco, but Washington’s linebackers will be under duress all night long.
Kyle Shanahan vs. Vic Fangio: Fangio cycled through Baltimore and Stanford with Greg Roman, and then followed Jim Harbaugh to the 49ers. Fangio has more tools on defense than Roman has on offense. Three of the ‘Niners four starting linebackers were voted to the Top 100 list by NFL players.
Rookie free safety Eric Reid is said to hit like LaRon Landry. Perhaps he covers like Landry as well. It’s an area for Kyle Shanahan to explore.
San Francisco has a stout defense without obvious weaknesses. Young Shanahan will need a diverse offense to attack it. The heroes of this game will be Redskins players who find favorable match ups against the third and fourth DB. Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson, Joshua Morgan and Roy Helu on a pass pattern are the tickets. I expect the 49ers to blanket Alfred Morris, Pierre Garçon and Fred Davis.
Robert Griffin III plays without fear, but I’m scared to death of him running on these guys.
If Jim Haslett’s unit can force a turnover for favorable field position, that would help … a lot.
Storyline: This game starts a three-game home stand for the Redskins, their first of the season. Four of Washington’s last six games are at friendly FedEx Field. The bad news is that these are the toughest six games on the schedule and comes at a time when injuries will be a factor.
Carlos Rodgers returns, if he makes the 49ers team again. The 'Niners signed free agent CB Nnamdi Asomugha this offseason. Players like Rodgers play over their head when they return to the team that rejected them. Recall that Madieu Williams' one outstanding game last season was against his old Vikings team.
UPDATE: San Francisco's No. 3 cornerback Chris Culliver tore his ACL in a non-contact drill during training camp. He will be lost for the season.
San Francisco flies west to east for this game. Normally the time zone difference is a disadvantage. This game is not on Sunday with a 1:00 PM ET kick-off. The extra day and later start gives the ‘Niners time to adjust.
Prepare for the “potential playoff preview” hype.
Way too early prediction: A game like this is when Hog Heaven falls back on the wisdom of Damon Runyon – “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.”
49ers and there is no shame in it.
Next: New York Giants at Washington
“Way too early prediction” means we reserve the right to change our minds after we see these teams in preseason games. Look for Hog Heaven’s stake-in-the-ground prediction the week before game one.
This story idea was inspired by the Big Ten Network Tom Dienhart who is running a similar series for the B1G football season.
To see the other games in this series, follow the link to 2013 Game by Game.
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