LANDOVER, Md. – Jim Harbaugh likes to remind his players about the importance of packing a strong defense whenever going on the road.
The 49ers arrived in the Washington area on Friday, held a walk through at the local U.S. Marine Corps Barracks and visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday, and then unpacked their signature stingy defense on Sunday in a 19-11 victory over the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.
“We knew they were going to come out and give us their best shot,” said linebacker and D.C. native
Other than a late 11-play, 72-yard scoring drive which ended with a 9-yard touchdown catch by Redskins wide receiver Jabar Gaffney and a two-point conversion catch from rookie wideout Leonard Hankerson, the 49ers defense was as tough as ever, tougher than a two-dollar steak.
The defense forced three turnovers, held Washington to 52 rushing yards, and harassed Redskins quarterback John Beck for much of the afternoon.
“Defensively, I thought we played lights-out again,” an exhausted-looking Harbaugh said in his postgame address. “They’re playing really good football, unselfish football.”
The defense enabled the 49ers offense to score points early.
On the very next play, rookie fullback
“Great play, great call,” said
Though Harbaugh said his players aren’t concerned with stats as a unit, there were plenty of game-changing plays made by all three phases of the game.
The offense and special teams were just as key in the win. Miller was one of eight different receivers to catch a pass from Smith.
“There’s a lot of guys to point out and credit for this,” Harbaugh said.
Then there was
The seventh-year veteran continued his candidacy for the league’s Most Valuable Player award with his fifth-straight 100-yard rushing performance. Gore carried 19 times for 107 yards on the day, averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
“We knew Washington had a great defense, too,” Gore said at the podium, minutes after scrolling through tons of congratulatory text messages. “We knew we had to settle down first.”
Once again, Gore benefitted from a solid performance from his offensive line, becoming the first 49er to ever rush for the century mark in five straight contests.
“There’s nobody that deserves it more than Frank,” guard
It was a struggle at first to score points against a Redskins team focused on snapping its three-game losing streak.
The 49ers moved the ball twice into Redskins territory on back-to-back possessions in the second half and only had a 45-yard field goal to show for it.
The lack of touchdowns wasn’t a deterrent in the 49ers winning their sixth consecutive game, moving to 7-1 on the season. Not when the team’s defense shut down Washington all afternoon and had already built a 13-3 lead going into halftime.
Washington got on the board with a 59-yard field goal from Graham Gano, the longest made field goal in Redskins history. It was all the points they’d muster in the first half against the league’s leaders in points allowed, who entered the game allowing 15.3 points per game.
Another Washington, D.C., native, tight end
Davis’ biggest catch, however, won’t show up on his receiving stat sheet.
With Gano on the field to attempt an onside kick with 1:10 remaining in the game, Davis joined the 49ers’ hands team, and fair caught Gano’s kick to secure the win.
Though he wasn’t technically allowed to fair catch it, Davis was happy to be the one to end the game for the 49ers.
“It felt really good to get a win back home in D.C.,” Davis said. “I’m glad I was able to do that in front of all my friends and family.”