The 49ers have won five in a row; the Redskins have lost three in a row.
The 49ers have one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL; the Redskins are giving up more than 120 yards on the ground per game.
The 49ers’ top-ranked run defense hasn’t allowed an opposing back to rush for 100 yards or more in 29 straight games; the Redskins, with starting running back Tim Hightower injured, will rely on Ryan Torain, who rushed for just 14 yards on eight carries last week in a 23-0 loss to the Bills.
Clearly, in their first matchup since 2008, the 6-1 49ers – trying to win their sixth straight game for the first time in 14 years – appear poised for another win.
Oddsmakers have made them a four-point favorite.
One Washington Post writer this week surmised that the Redskins “have reached the point of desperation.”
“We just know we better get better in a hurry, because we’re going against a team that’s one of the best in the NFL,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said this week. “(The 49ers) have been doing a great job of running the football and getting points. Obviously, their defense is doing a great job, too. It will be quite a challenge for us.”
Among those challenges is keeping quarterback John Beck upright. In the loss to Buffalo last week, Beck – who took over for Rex Grossman – was sacked 10 times. He also threw two picks while completing 20 of 33 throws for 208 yards. Overall, the Skins have allowed 22 sacks, tied for sixth most in the league.
Offensive ineptitude isn’t the sole reason why the Redskins – who started out 3-1 – have reversed field.
Though the defense was fairly solid the first four weeks of the season, Washington has given up an average of 206.3 total yards per game since, including 168.3 on the ground.
Frank Gore, who’s had at least 125 yards rushing the past four games, could have a big game Sunday.
“Frank’s just got a will to keep going,” said 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh this week. “He is a great competitor. Consummate team player and the guys up front feed off him, and he feeds off them. … It’s a great thing for our team.”