Hold the big plays down.
This is a mantra of Vic Fangio.
"That is something he says every day," rookie safety Eric Reid said of his defensive coordinator. "Each play, you have to win and, if you win the majority of the plays, you're going to win the game. That's our motto on defense."
So it should come as no surprise that Fangio has been harping on his choice line the week of the 49ers "Monday Night Football" duel in D.C.
Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III, either using his right arm or surgically-repaired knee, embodies the very definition of big-play ability.
Griffin meets his match in San Francisco's defense, which yielded just 28 plays of 20 or more yards, the second-fewest plays of any NFL team this season.
For Reid, playing against Griffin outweighs the bright lights of playing on Monday night. The first-year pro knows he and his teammates have their work cut out for them.
"We have to depend on our defensive line to keep him in the pocket, don't let him runaround out there," Reid said. "For the secondary, we have to stay tight in coverage so our defensive line can get to him.
"They have the No. 1 rushing attack in the entire league, so that opens up their play-action game really well. It's a challenge for us. As a defense, we have to step up contain their run but at the same time don't give up the big passing play."
Despite Griffin's seemingly disappointing sophomore campaign – he has already thrown twice as many interceptions in 2013, 10, than he did in 2012 – Fangio has seen progressive improvements from Washington's signal-caller on film. It was only 10-plus months ago that Griffin tore his ACL in a playoff defeat to the Seattle Seahawks.
"It would have been much better to play (Washington) earlier in the season than now 'cause this is game 11 and he is 11 weeks improved," Fangio said. "He's getting more and more confident with his knee."