K GRAHAM GANO:Gano drilled a franchise-record 59-yard field goal on the final play of the first half. It ranks below some of his overtime winners on the importance scale, but it shows what he is capable of. Gano has made 12 of 16 field goal attempts this season, and three of the four misses were blocks that resulted from protection breakdowns or a botched hold. Coaches’ faith in him and their willingness to let him build on past failures appear to have paid off. Gano can’t let up now, though. The Redskins need him to help the offense break out of its scoring slump.
QB JOHN BECK:Beck wasn’t as bad as he was in the shutout against Buffalo, but he was far from good enough. He failed to recognize open receivers at times, and he got rid of the ball too quickly on some plays he needed to let develop. Perhaps he overcompensated after his tendency to hold the ball too long resulted in a handful of sacks against Buffalo, a possibility coach Mike Shanahan suggested considering San Francisco’s strong pass rush.
On the positive side, Beck was much better finding his check-down option - RB Roy Helu - when there was pressure. He was sacked only once, compared to 10 times against the Bills. He also took advantage of some sizeable cushions that San Francisco’s corners afforded Washington’s receivers.
His biggest mistake was his interception at the end of the first quarter. Beck expected FS Dashon Goldson to turn and cover WR Leonard Hankerson‘s deep route, leaving TE Fred Davis open on a shallower out. But Goldson read Beck’s intentions, drove on Davis‘ route and beat Davis to the ball.
Beck missed WR Jabar Gaffney open on a few plays, most notably the failed attempt to convert fourth-and-2 early in the fourth quarter. Beck locked onto Davis‘ quick out even though Davis was covered. Gaffney, meanwhile, was open near the left sideline. Beck also threw incomplete over the middle to WR Terrence Austin on the initial third down of the game instead of seeing Gaffney open near the right sideline.
Beck’s indecisiveness cost the Redskins on a few plays. On third-and-4 on the Redskins‘ penultimate drive, he pump faked a throw to Davis, giving CB Chris Culliver time to drive on Helu’s route nearby and break up the play. He also made an incredibly awkward low, incomplete throw to Austin on the last play of the first half after pump faking in Davis‘ direction.
Beck’s play wasn’t all bad, though. On his late touchdown pass, he read the safety’s decision to move toward the center of the field to cover Austin’s slant, which opened a window for him to find Gaffney in the back of the end zone. On the first play of that 11-play drive, he kept his eyes downfield as the pocket collapsed and found Davis for a 16-yard gain.
Moving forward, Beck needs to do a better job seeing the field and getting rid of the ball at the proper time. Is the latter something he can learn, or are those instincts he lacks? We’ll find out.
WR TERRENCE AUSTIN:Austin is a prime example of inexperience hurting the Redskins. The second-year player lost a fumble in the fourth quarter after exposing the ball in the wrong arm to ILB Patrick Willis.
Another critical mistake was his illegal crackback block. With the Redskins trailing by 13 and 1:42 left in the third quarter, Austin turned a first-and-10 from the 49ers’ 41-yard line into an insurmountable first-and-25. From the right slot, he blocked low against the linebacker that was playing him with inside leverage. Not only was his blocking technique illegal, but he wasn’t even supposed to block the linebacker on that run.
“I was supposed to block the safety,” Austin said after the game. “Shoot, I just didn’t do it. I busted my assignment.”View Entire Story
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