Defense superb again as 49ers trudge to mud bowl win over Redskins

Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

You couldn’t ask for an uglier game. Playing on field that was more mud than grass, the 49ers and the Redskins ran the ball at each other 30-plus times each, but it was the 49ers defense, which, yet again, was superb, that led the way in a 9-0 win.

The Redskins clearly took a page from the Rams last week in their opening drive (10 rushes, plus one called back for holding) and one “pass” which was a shovel that lost three yards. That shovel preceded the Redskins’ only scoring chance of the game, a 39-yard field goal pushed wide right by kicker Dustin Hopkins.

From that point on, the 49ers defense stifled whatever the Redskins had hoped they could accomplish on the ground. Nick Bosa had seven tackles, four of which came for a loss. He ended the game with a sack, his fourth of the year, trailing only Dee Ford on the team, with 4.5 sacks.

DeForest Buckner had six tackles and both Arik Armstead (three tackles, one for a loss) and Ford (two tackles) both notched sacks. The one Redskins turnover came when Kwon Alexander punched out a fumble from Adrian Peterson, which was recovered by Jullian Taylor, who was tremendous in his first ime being active since Week 2. In addition to the fumble recovery, Taylor had a key fourth down stop on Peterson earlier in the game.

The Redskins ran for more than 100 yards, but that was more of a factor of their frequency of running than their efficiency. Case Keenum only threw the ball 12 times (9-of-12, 77 yards), and the offense finished with just 181 total yards on the day.

While Jimmy Garoppolo was wretched for much of the first half, he started to grow into the game late, and the ground game remained a constant, successful grind, spurred on mainly by Tevin Coleman (20 carries, 62 yards).

Matt Breida (8 rushes, 35 yards) cleared concussion protocol, but did not enter the game again, as he was poked in the eye and the risk of returning outweighed the benefits. Jeff Wilson Jr. picked up five carries for 20 yards, the same rushing yardage as Garoppolo, who was as crafty on the ground as he proved to be in the air late on.

Garoppolo finished 12-of-21 with 151 yards and one interception, though he was nearly picked off on at least two other occasions. The passing game was defined by a few key catches. Two of them came from tight ends George Kittle (3 receptions, 38 yards) and Ross Dwelley on crucial downs, both of which moved the chains. Kittle was fully outstretched over the middle, snatching a 14-yard pass on a 3rd-and-8, while Dwelley, on his only catch, laid out on a 4th-and-1, just barely making the grab with his fingertips.

The play after Dwelley’s fourth-down conversion was a 26-yard pass to Kendrick Bourne, who also had a 28-yard reception to open the half (3 receptions, 69 yards). He was by far the most dynamic receiving threat on the day, though Richie James Jr. made use of his one catch, taking it for 40 yards. That catch by Bourne went down to the seven-yard line setting up one of Robbie Gould’s three field goals, all the 49ers would need to secure the win.

The Redskins tried to mount a hapless final drive, with Keenum throwing a dud before Bosa wrapped him up for a game-ending sack and sliding celebration. It was apropos for an ugly game that the defense did everything it needed to in order to secure the win.

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