- The Washington Times - Monday, October 17, 2005

The San Francisco 49ers, the Redskins’ opponent Sunday at FedEx Field, have lost four consecutive games by an average of 21 points, have been outscored 62-0 in the fourth quarter, have the league’s worst defense and will be starting a rookie quarterback.

But in a passionate defense of the 49ers yesterday at Redskin Park, coach Joe Gibbs basically said anybody who thinks the Redskins will win easily is being ridiculous although Washington is an 111/2-point favorite. He said five “outfits” have predicted a Redskins victory.

“Up here, there are no favorites,” Gibbs said. “Every game we play comes down to the last play. Why would somebody say something when it’s not true? … I don’t get it.

“I’ll tell our football team not to pay attention to that. We need to pay attention to winning games. Every team that comes here will have a chance to beat us. That will be all year long and certainly the 49ers. Ask St. Louis, who we think is one of the best teams around. The 49ers worked them over [28-25 in Week 1].”

And Gibbs was just warming up.

“I want to say to everybody so everybody can understand: Everybody can beat us,” he said. “It’s ridiculous to [predict a blowout win] in a way that will be on somebody’s bulletin board. It’s one thing to say you’re a favorite and another thing to make light of another football team in the NFL. Sometimes I wonder what the motivation is there. To help the other team?”

The Redskins (3-2) play the New York Giants, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay following the 49ers, and Gibbs calls Sunday’s game “critical.”

“I think our fans understand it, I think our football team understands it,” he said. “Why doesn’t everybody else out there understand it? It will go down to the last play, in all likelihood.

“Everybody up here can beat everybody else. Just ask Pittsburgh. Just ask the Bengals. The Jaguars beat both of them.

“When people think they can pick the favorites, I almost laugh. Why doesn’t everybody bet on them? Nobody has enough guts to bet on them because most of the time, they’re wrong. The experts — they can’t pick them. The [assistant] coaches, they have their little pool and they can’t pick them either.”

Clark could play Sunday

Redskins safety Ryan Clark, who missed the Kansas City game with a bruised spleen, has not ruled himself out against San Francisco. Clark said he has no pain on his side and if doctors clear him this week, he’ll resume practicing.

Clark said he felt discomfort in the rib area on the Redskins’ flight home from Denver nine days ago but opted to tough it out and practiced Wednesday and Thursday.

“The pain never went away,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep Thursday night. My wife thought it was gas. I was trying to explain how I feel and I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s definitely gas.’ ”

Clark said he found it difficult to watch the Redskins-Chiefs game from his home.

“What’s tough about it is, I was in preparation the whole week so seeing formations on TV and things K.C. was doing and I was screaming, ‘Push, push!’ or ‘Max protect!’ ” he said. “My wife said she was going to turn off the televisions and throw the remotes out of the house. You always feel like maybe you could have done something. I couldn’t do a thing.”

Injury report

In addition to Clark, Gibbs said cornerback Shawn Springs (shin) is “pretty close to returning, but we’ll see how he feels.” Kicker John Hall (quadriceps) and running back Ladell Betts (groin) remain day to day. Athletic trainer Bubba Tyer said Springs and Betts ran yesterday. Defensive tackle Cedric Killings (high ankle sprain) and Joe Salave’a (plantar fasciaitis) also are hobbling.

Running back Clinton Portis (shin/calf) said he was “sore” as he walked into Redskin Park, but expect him to play.

“To me, Clinton’s a stud, that’s what he is,” Gibbs said. “He’s slamming it up there, running like mad and has a shin that keeps getting kicked. He’s a tough guy.”

Extra points

The NFL trade deadline is today and Gibbs said, “I can’t see anything happening but you don’t ever rule anything out.” …

The Redskins lost three fumbles against Kansas City and Gibbs said: “I’ll probably institute a different kind of practice. We do strip drills and the defense has one period where they do tip and strip drills. We may change it up and put an emphasis on working against each other. We’re willing to try anything to solve this.”

Staff writer David Elfin contributed to this article.

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