- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 4, 2002

OSAKA, Japan — After some early sputters, the vaunted offense of Steve Spurrier overwhelmed the San Francisco 49ers in his debut as Washington Redskins coach.
The Redskins scored 38 unanswered points starting in the second quarter to beat the 49ers 38-7 in the American Bowl. The sparse crowd at Osaka Dome also needed some time to get into the game.
Anticipation about how Spurriers offense would translate to the NFL boosted interest in the Redskins exhibition opener. Spurrier was considered perhaps the college games top offensive mind before becoming the NFLs highest-paid coach.
Starting quarterback Sage Rosenfels threw two touchdown passes in the second period, including a 65-yarder to Derrius Thompson, while Danny Wuerffel added a scoring toss in the third quarter and two more in the fourth.
However, neither passer made his plays against San Franciscos starting defense. Rosenfels was just 2-for-8 for 21 yards on his first two possessions, the only ones played by the 49ers top unit.
Rosenfels finished 10-for-20 for 172 yards, two touchdowns and one interception — not bad numbers but certainly not good enough to take control of the crucial quarterback race.
"I dont have that much experience, so it took me a little while to get comfortable," Rosenfels said. "But with time and more snaps I got better."
Wuerffel completed 16 of 25 throws for 267 yards and three touchdowns. His first scoring pass, 14 yards to receiver Darnerien McCants on the second halfs opening drive, came with Washingtons starting offense against San Franciscos backups.
The Redskins starters returned to the bench after that possession. Wuerffels second touchdown went 31 yards to Thompson on fourth-and-1 with 10:39 left in the game, his third 44 yards to McCants with 2:30 remaining.
The Redskins emerged without any significant injuries. Backup guard/tackle Alex Sulfsted aggravated a nerve in his ankle but is expected to be fine.
Washingtons opening possession lasted just three plays — two bad incompletions and an interception by Rosenfels. The first throw went over receiver Rod Gardner, the second behind on Gardner on a miscommunication, and the third to 49ers cornerback Ahmed Plummer on a pass well behind receiver Jacquez Green.
Rosenfels settled down on the second series, hitting Gardner for a 13-yard gain and fullback Bryan Johnson for 8 yards. But star running back Stephen Davis already was out of the game — after not touching the ball — and backup Kenny Watson gained just 2 yards on three carries behind Washingtons unsettled offensive line.
The poor throws returned on the third series. Rosenfels missed Reidel Anthony and Green on medium-range throws, then hung up a deep pass to Green. Cornerback Jimmy Williams, part of the 49ers second-team defense, made a nice play on the ball to end the series three-and-out.
Most of the Redskins first-team offense remained on the field for the third series but was replaced by backups on the fourth. That possession ended with the deep strike to Thompson, who lost rookie cornerback Mike Rumph in single coverage. Later in the half Rosenfels finished a 65-yard drive with a 10-yard score to tight end Robert Royal.
Wuerffels series with the first-team offense featured three big passes to receiver Chris Doering, of 20, 21 and 11 yards. The touchdown to McCants went over the middle; McCants was hit hard by several 49ers defenders but held on. Wuerffel led a long drive for a field goal on his second series, then guided touchdown marches on his third and fourth.
Rosenfels, 2001s fourth-round draft pick, was given the start because he was the only passer returning from last season. However, he is considered the least likely to earn the job after a mediocre start to training camp. He is battling Wuerffel and Shane Matthews, two veterans who starred for Spurrier at Florida.
Matthews did not play but is expected to get most of the work next weekend at Carolina. Unsigned rookie Patrick Ramsey at one point was considered a dark horse for the job but his contractual holdout, 13 days as of today, makes it unlikely he will play early in the season.
The Redskins first-team defense looked sharp, holding San Franciscos starters scoreless in the first quarter despite good field position set up by Rosenfels interception. The 49ers went three-and-out on the games opening possession and then botched a field goal attempt after driving from Washingtons 35 to the 7.
The Redskins backup defense gave up the 13-play, 65-yard drive that ended in an 8-yard touchdown run by running back Kevan Barlow. San Francisco converted four third downs and took a 7-0 lead on that possession.

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