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Sunday, November 6, 2011
Wrap up: 49ers 19, Redskins 11

By Dan Graziano


A few thoughts from the Washington Redskins' fourth straight loss, this one at home to the 49ers on Sunday afternoon:

What it means: Well, at least the Redskins scored this week. Heck, they even came up with a late touchdown to keep things respectable. But for much of the game it was more of the same -- an inept, outmanned, overmatched offense that just couldn't get yards when it had to and asked the defense to stay on the field too long and do too much. The worst part is that they're not even doing what they say they want to do. John Beck threw 47 passes in this game and they had only 15 rush attempts. They weren't far enough behind to justify a split like that.

Hello, Helu: In a surprise move, just before the game Mike Shanahan named rookie Roy Helu the starter at running back over Ryan Torain. He also started rookie Leonard Hankerson at wide receiver, and Hankerson played fine. But it was the Helu move that was the eye-opener. The reason Tim Hightower was starting over Torain earlier in the year was that the Redskins liked Hightower better in the passing game -- as a receiver and a blocker. They feel the same way about Helu, and you could see why. Not only did he come up with 41 rushing yards on 10 carries, Helu also caught 14 passes for 105 yards. A Redskins offense that doesn't have many downfield options needs to be able to throw to its backs as well as its tight ends, and while tight end Fred Davis wasn't a factor, Helu showed them that they may have a new dimension on which they can rely going forward.

Beck is a wreck: I'm sure a lot of guys would look jittery playing quarterback behind this offensive line the way it's built right now, but Beck sure isn't the picture of cool confidence back there. It's one thing to know you can make a play with your legs when things break down. It's quite another to be jumping around as soon as you take the snap, ignoring open receivers and making poor choices when the play hasn't yet broken down. Beck could have made more plays than he did in this one. More of this was on him than the last game, in which he got sacked 10 times. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The Redskins will make at least one more starting quarterback change before the end of this year. You've not seen the last of Rex Grossman.

The defense doesn't rest: Once again, I thought the defense fought pretty hard, considering it's being asked to win games by itself. Ryan Kerrigan was a disruptive presence in the backfield early, London Fletcher was once again everywhere all at once, LaRon Landry and DeAngelo Hall made some plays. … The Redskins could be in these games if the offense had better players, but all of the key injuries on that side of the ball have crippled them.

What's next: The Redskins travel to Miami on Sunday to take on the red-hot Miami Dolphins, who picked up their first win in a row Sunday to improve to 1-7.