Our staff writers break down the San Francisco 49ers Week 6 matchup, a road game against the Washington Redskins.
Let's dive into the keys to the game in this "Four Downs" preview of Sunday's divisional matchup, presented by SunPower.1st Down:Which position group needs to step up?@Joe_Fann: Cornerback
The 49ers secondary has just one interception this season, and that was Jaquiski Tartt way back in Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers. San Francisco's corners are getting shutout thus far in the turnover department. It's time for Rashard Robinson, K'Waun Williams and Dontae Johnson to get their first takeaway of the season. There's no doubt Kirk Cousins will challenge all three on Sunday.
Pierre Garçon and the 49ers offense has struggled to get going in the first half this season. The slow starts are forcing Hoyer to play a game of catch-up most weeks. San Francisco's offense need to play with some urgency out of the gate. Hoyer completed 29-of-46 passes for 353 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions last week against the Colts. He'll need to build on his Week 5 performance through all four quarters on Sunday if the 49ers are to get their first win of 2017.2nd Down: Which 49ers defender will force a turnover?
@Joe_Fann: Rashard Robinson
I'm doubling down on my first response. Robinson has been credited with six passes defended so far to lead the 49ers, but this is the week for his first interception of 2017. The second-year corner has been up-and-down this season. A takeaway would help silence some of his critics.
We were teased with just 11 snaps of "Ferrari" Foster before the rookie linebacker was carted off the field in Week 1. Foster is expected to make his long-awaited return from a high-ankle sprain against the Redskins. Needless to say, the 49ers first-round pick is eager to return to the field. Don't forget he nearly came down with an interception against the Carolina Panthers in his brief NFL debut. Although snaps may be limited in his return, a Foster turnover would make a great welcome back.3rd Down: Who is the 49ers x-factor in Week 6?
@Joe_Fann: Reuben Foster
My gut tells me that Reuben Foster will make his return on Sunday against the Redskins. However, I doubt he's an every-down player immediately following his high-ankle sprain, and I have no idea what his snap count will be. That's what makes him the perfect x-factor. Foster has the talent to tip the scales in San Francisco's favor amid a string of four straight losses by three points or less. He had three tackles and a PBU in Week 1 before getting hurt. I wouldn't be surprised if the linebacker leaves his mark on this game in limited work, either.
Goodwin caught 5-of-11 targets for a career-high 116 yards during last week's loss to the Colts. We saw Hoyer dial up a deep route to Goodwin on a 51-yard completion that put the 49ers back in the game late in the fourth quarter. Goodwin's 11 targets were a season high after never seeing more than six during San Francisco's first four contests. The 49ers will need more big plays from their speedy playmaker.4th Down: What is your bold prediction?
@Joe_Fann: Pierre Garçon scores against his former team
Garçon has already been everything the 49ers could have hoped for as their prized free-agent addition. Garçon's 379 receiving yards are easily the tops on the team, but he's still looking for his first score in a 49ers uniform. I think he finds the end zone against his old Washington cohorts in Week 6.
@KeianaMartinTV:A 49ers WIN
It's evident San Francisco has the components to win. Even Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said the 49ers were just a few plays away from being 4-1. Instead, San Francisco sits at 0-5 having lost their last four games by a combined 11 points. That's a brutal statistic, but it's the 49ers harsh reality. Slight miscues, penalties and costly turnovers have kept the 49ers winless. This team desperately needs a win, and it's just a matter of time before things click. I'm predicting an upset on Sunday.