Washington Redskins vs. San Francisco 49ers: 5 Questions

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Five questions Redskins beat writer Zac Boyer has heading into Washington’s Monday night game against the San Francisco 49ers.

1. Can Robert Griffin III respond after a flat performance against the Eagles?

The Redskins couldn’t move the ball through three quarters in a loss to Philadelphia and had just four net passing yards in the first half. Griffin responded in the fourth quarter, trying to mount a comeback that ended when he threw an interception in the end zone in the final minute. Though he was less accurate than in recent weeks, he thrived under the pressure, which he’s likely to be able to do again when he can show off in front of a national audience.

2. How will each team utilize the zone-read option?

Two teams that have pioneered the use of the play in the NFL will face defenses that, while practicing against it often, have had trouble stopping it. Each team has run it a half-dozen times a game and has run a play-action fake another handful of times. The team that takes the early lead or has greater success running the ball is expected to run the play with greater frequency.

3. What will Fred Davis and Joshua Morgan do in their returns?

Davis has been exiled to the inactive list the last five weeks after being replaced in the lineup by rookie tight end Jordan Reed, but will be back in the picture against the 49ers because Reed is still recovering from a concussion. Morgan, healthy but inactive last week for the first time in his five-plus NFL seasons, will get a more permanent chance after Leonard Hankerson tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee and was placed on injured reserve. Each player helped the Redskins' passing game last season and should give a boost against the 49ers.

4. Is Nick Williams the answer on special teams?

The undrafted wide receiver out of UConn was signed off the practice squad on Nov. 12 to replace Morgan as the punt returner, but he muffed two punts against the Eagles, returned another for no gain and watched as one was downed at the 4-yard line before the Redskins’ final drive. Another poor performance will not help the struggling special teams unit, but it’s not as if the Redskins had any production in the previous nine games, either.

5. Will Frank Gore carry the 49ers?

With quarterback Colin Kaepernick struggling to throw the ball this season, the 49ers have relied upon Gore, their four-time Pro Bowl running back, to lead the offense. A week ago, San Francisco expected the New Orleans Saints’ top priority would be to stop the run; Gore carried the ball only 13 times, Kaepernick completed 17 of 31 passes for 127 yards and the 49ers lost. The Redskins entered Week 12 with the 19th-ranked run defense but have faced few high-quality backs.

 

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