By Morris Phillips
The most non-descript Monday night win in 49ers history? It felt like it.
Colin Kaepernick bounced back with a three touchdown passes and a career best quarterback rating while the Redskins had their poorest performance in Coach Mike Shanahan’s estimation since he came to Washington in 2010 in a cross country snoozer that went to the 49ers, 27-6.
“Going into this one, it was by any means necessary and our guys rose up to the challenge and got it done,” Coach Jim Harbaugh said.
San Francisco reclaimed the final spot in the NFC playoff picture with five games remaining and enjoyed a relatively stress-free night in Landover, Maryland ahead of pivotal games that will likely be a lot more dramatic than this one.
After a competitive first half, the 49ers ran away as the Redskins went limp, totaling only 30 yards of offense after halftime. Robert Griffin III’s miserable sophomore season continued and the 49ers’ defensive front seven closed down Alfred Morris’ running lanes. Griffin 17 pass attempts totaled just 127 yards and one interception, and Morris had 52 yards on 14 carries.
“We haven’t been dominated like that since I’ve been here,” Shanahan said.
“We’re all frustrated,” Griffin III said. “Everybody is tired of losing.”
Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin–aided by Kaepernick and his 235 yards passing—provided all the fireworks, combining for nine catches, 164 yards and all three touchdowns. Davis and Boldin have all of the 49ers’ receiving scores this season, which means they welcomed the news that Michael Crabtree will make his season debut on Sunday against the Rams in a late announcement made after the game.
The 49ers’ response to a two-game losing streak was workman-like and rooted in San Francisco’s collection of Pro Bowl-level talent on both lines compared to Barry Cofield, a 8th year defensive lineman with an above modest 6-year, $12 million deal signed in 2011, listing as the most notable, starting offensive or defensive lineman in the Redskins’ current starting lineup.
Washington lost a third consecutive game and fell to 3-8 one season after the Redskins won the NFC East. The 49ers improved to 7-4 and remained tied with the Cardinals behind the 10-1 Seahawks in the NFC West. The 49ers see all three divisional opponents in the final five weeks with the final game at Scottsdale against the Cardinals looming largest. And their play on Monday suggested that the team may be closer to playing its best football in the season’s final quarter.
LaMichael James provided a 32-yard kickoff return and a 40-yard punt return as the 49ers enjoyed a healthy edge on special teams. James’ big punt return set up Davis’ 1-yard touchdown reception five plays later that put the 49ers up 24-6 with 3:35 remaining in the third quarter.