Previewing Washington Soccer Group’s Week 14 recreation at San Francisco 49ers
Why Arizona? The 49ers have temporarily moved because California’s Santa Clara County, home of the team’s Levi’s Stadium and practice facility, imposed a moratorium on all sporting events for at least three weeks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Washington will do without one of its top playmakers. Rookie who trailed Antonio Gibson was disfellowshipped on Friday for the lawn toe injury he sustained in defeating the Steelers on Monday. Though Washington’s Pittsburgh offense went without him for more than three-quarters, it produced only 31 rushing yards, an average of 1.6 yards per carry, in that period, and it was unable to break a single run for double-digit meters. In their last two games with Gibson against the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys, Washington averaged 173 rushing yards (and 4.94 per carry) and a total of 12 runs of 10 or more yards.
Pittsburgh’s defense ranks among the best in the league, but San Francisco is also in the top 10 in most categories, including allowable rushing yards of 106.4 per game (ninth) and 3.92 per carry (sixth). The 49ers have also narrowed the fewest yards per game, according to Sportradar (29.7), and if they followed Pittsburgh’s blueprint to try to remove Terry McLaurin as a receiving threat, Washington’s misdemeanor could fight.
In Pittsburgh, offensive coordinator Scott Turner let Peyton Barber do most of the transfers (14) in Gibson’s absence, and he relied more on JD McKissic (10 catches at team height) for the passing game. But he’ll need more of the two against the 49ers.
“We’re going to be working a combination of these people,” said Turner. “We’ll have another man ready by the end of the week. We’ll see who this will be in the course of the week, or maybe we have something for them. We just need people who improve. It is no different from any other position when you have injuries. “
Washington’s ability to fill the void has been limited, largely due to the NFL’s coronavirus protocols, which require six days of pre-entry testing. The team is likely to add to the exercise group bringing back Javon Leake, a former University of Maryland jam and returne who spent the off-season with the New York Giants and signed with Washington in November. Leake, an uncovered rookie, hasn’t played an NFL Snap yet.
The matchup is in the trenches. 49ers Left Tackle Trent Williams will face his former team for the first time since Washington traded him on a draft day deal. He told reporters Thursday that after things ended in Washington, he no longer harbored grudges and was still closely associated with many of the players on the team. He also sang the praises of rookie pass rusher Chase Young.
“Chase just has a lot of athletic skills that you can’t teach,” said Williams. “… I think he’ll be a damn good player in this league for the years to come.”
Eleven years after his career, Williams is still considered one of the best left wingers in the league and regularly pulls the opponent’s top pass rusher. Not only will he challenge Young and Montez Sweat as they spin in the line of defense, but he’ll also challenge a measuring stick for both of them.
“They will find out where they are and if they are where they need to be,” said coach Ron Rivera. “… It’s going to be a big, big challenge – it really is. And I’m curious how our boys are doing. “
McLaurin is just before 1,000 meters. Washington’s sophomore receiver takes 23 yards to reach 1,000 for the first time. He got close last season (919) and it seemed like he was crossing the threshold in Pittsburgh. But the Steelers clearly intended to take him out, and he finished the race just 14 yards on two catches.
“You hear a lot that 1,000 meters puts you in elite society,” said McLaurin. “When I started the season, I didn’t really think about a goal that I had seen statistically. … I mean, I think it would be cool to have 1,000 meters. But it’s even cooler to keep winning and have the chance to win the division. If I need to have games like last week so we can keep winning and attracting other people’s attention, then I’ll do that. “
Injury Report: In addition to Gibson’s failure, Washington’s tackles against Morgan Moses (groin) and David Sharpe (knee), right guard Brandon Scherff (calf) and defensive end Ryan Anderson (knee) were classified as questionable. All four were limited in practice on Friday.
The 49ers eliminated three players: Tackle Tom Compton (concussion), center Hroniss Grasu (knee) and defensive tackle Kevin Givens (non-injury). They also cited defensive tackle DJ Jones (ankle) and cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (hamstring) as doubtful and cornerback K’Waun Williams (ankle) as questionable. Williams was limited in practice Friday. The others didn’t take part at all. Broad receiver Deebo Samuel, who was restricted on Thursday with a foot injury, is in full swing.
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