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49ers to Face NFL’s No. 1 Rushing Attack

Posted Nov 23, 2013

Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III are two key cogs in Washington's No. 1 ranked rushing offense.

The 49ers will face the NFL’s top-ranked rushing attack on “Monday Night Football.”

Washington’s multifaceted scheme is similar to San Francisco’s own versatile running game.

“I think the Redskins have more of an option run game,” defensive captain Patrick Willis said. “They actually run true option, not just the gun-read.

“They can run the option out of anything pretty much.”

Vic Fangio is also impressed with Monday’s opponent.

“They have an excellent running game,” San Francisco’s defensive coordinator said. “They have the standard running game that they’ve always run in their offense with (Redskins head coach) Mike (Shanahan) being there. They’ve got the zone scheme which they do a really good job running. They’ve run it forever and do a great job of running.”

But it doesn’t’ stop there.

“Then they mix in their pistol attack where there’s some option game involved and they do a good job with that with (Redskins quarterback Robert) Griffin. There’s a lot of carryover to their option game running game to their regular running game from the O-line’s perspective.

“It’s pretty easy for them to do both.”

Washington features a zone-blocking scheme as well as traditional option running plays.

“That opens up their play-action game really well,” rookie free safety Eric Reid said.

Second-year runner Alfred Morris is the bell cow of Washington’s run-first offense. The sturdy runner ranks No. 3 in the NFL with 918 rushing yards. Morris is also sixth in the league with an average of 5.1 yards per game.

“He runs the ball hard,” Willis said. “He’s not a real quick, wiggly guy, but he breaks tackles and gets yards.”

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According to Fangio, Morris is a perfect in Washington’s scheme.

“He does a great job of once he hits it, then he hits it good and hard and strong,” San Francisco’s coordinator said. “He’s got good size. He’s got deceiving strength. Deceiving speed. He can cut it. The guy’s a pretty good fit for their offense.”

Besides Morris, Washington has a running threat at quarterback with Robert Griffin III. The second-year signal-caller has 345 rushing yards, with an average of 5.2 yards per carry.

“There’s a lot there,” Fangio said. “You’ve got a running quarterback who can keep it. You’ve got a really good running back in Morris, who has gotten a lot of yards in the year and a half that he’s been in the league. They do a really good job with it.”

Washington leads the NFL averaging 155.2 yards per game, despite having a 3-7 record.

Griffin looks even more explosive in recent weeks, too. The promising quarterback tore two knee ligaments in a Wild Card loss to Seattle, but has improved his play-making ability throughout the regular season.

Fangio noted that Griffin is under center 30-35 percent of the time, mostly on first and second downs.

On those downs, Washington looks to bait opposing defenses into playing closer to the line of scrimmage. Tight coverage makes opponents susceptible to deep throws.

“They want to run the ball, run the ball and marry their first and second down play-action game to their running game, which they do a great job of, trying to get you to inch up, inch up and crowd the line for the running game and try to hit a big play in the passing game,” Fangio said. “That’s what they want you to do. Sometimes you’re forced to do it. You hope you don’t have to do it too much.”


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