Colin Kaepernick's Best Performance Since Week 1
It probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the young quarterback had a stellar outing against one of the worst pass defenses in the entire National Football League. Kaepernick was able to hit wide open receivers all over the field throughout the game, which was a site to behold considering San Francisco's wide receiver play this season. Both Anquan Boldin and Mario Manningham stepped up big time as consistent pass catchers at nearly every turn.
It was Manningham who helped Kaepernick get comfortable early in the game, catching three passes on five targets in the first quarter alone. The signal caller then hooked up with Boldin a couple times in the end zone before connecting with tight end Vernon Davis for his third touchdown pass of the night to put the game away.
Overall, Kaepernick put up the best single-game quarterback rating (134.5) of his young career. Interestingly enough, his previous best came in his first career NFL start, also on Monday night, against the Chicago Bears last season. If Kaepernick can continue this stellar play, the 49ers should be in good position moving forward. It's now all about remaining consistent against better competition.
Defense Was Downright Dominating
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan pretty much summed up the night for the home team, per Andrew Siciliano. "We haven't got dominated like this since I've been here." Domination is likely the best word to use, as San Francisco's defense went to town against a suddenly inept Redskins offense.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III was under constant pressure all night, getting sacked four times and hit seven times. Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith had two sacks apiece, which accounted for San Francisco's sack total on the night.
More than that, the Redskins were forced to go with quick screens throughout the game in an attempt to mask pass-protection issues. This took the middle of the field away and pretty much made Pierre Garcon a non-impact performer. Washington's No. 1 receiver tallied just 48 yards on eight catches. This is the type of dominating defensive performance that we have been accustomed to since Vic Fangio took over the unit back in 2011.
The most surprising aspect of San Francisco's defensive game plan Monday was that it didn't let up throughout the game. Washington tallied a total of 30 yards in the second half. If this unit can continue to play great football, much like we have seen over the course of the last eight games, the 49ers should be in good shape moving forward. After all, they are yielding an average of just 12 points per game since Week 3.
Improved Gameplan on Offense
As much as many of us have chastised offensive coordinator Greg Roman for lackluster offensive schemes in the vast majority of San Francisco's games this season, he deserves a ton of credit for switching it up a bit against Washington. Roman and Co. decided to go right after Washington's weaknesses throughout the night by isolating Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald against one of the worst safety groups in the NFL. The results were immediate, as Davis and McDonald accounted for five receptions, 93 yards and a score.
While Frank Gore never really got it going on the ground (13 attempts, 31 yards), the 49ers still ran the ball nine more times than they threw it. That's a huge difference from what we saw during their two-game losing streak.
With that being said, issues remain as it relates to San Francisco having success on the ground. It is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry over the past two games with Gore going for 79 yards on 26 carries during that span. Some of San Francisco's lack of success on the ground had to do with Mike Iupati missing the game, but this has to remedied moving forward. Even when the 49ers get Michael Crabtree back, most likely next week, their bread and butter remains the running game.
Let me be clear about one thing. The Redskins are an atrocious football team. Their offense was about as vanilla as it could get on Monday, especially in the passing game. Robert Griffin III didn't have anywhere near the time to get the ball down the field, and when he did, the receivers simply couldn't make any plays on the ball. Defensively, it was a combination of bad tackling and lackluster coverage that doomed the Redskins throughout the night.
In fact, one could easily come to the conclusion that the Redskins couldn't have beat a single team in the NFL the way they played against the 49ers.
This has been somewhat of a continuing theme for San Francisco in 2013. It does well against some of the worst teams in the league, but fails to live up to expectations against some of the better teams. While it's true that the 49ers can only play who is on their schedule, they haven't exactly been world beaters this year. They have one win against a team that is currently over .500, and that came against an Arizona Cardinals team that was playing much different football earlier in the season. This is something that is going to have to change if the 49ers are going to get into the playoffs and make noise in January.
Vincent Frank has been covering the National Football League for three years. He started out writing for Bleacher Report and is currently the head editor at eDraft and a columnist at Pro Football Focus. Vincent co-hosts a weekly radio show called "Football Debate Central" with former NFL player Ryan Riddle and has seen his work featured on CNN, BR and Los Angeles Times, among many other outlets.
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