Well, we have another disappointing loss in the books. However, I'm going to try and look at some positives and just some things I noticed throughout. Starting with rookie WR Leonard Hankerson's first start. Solid first game as a starter, considering he's had hardly any actual game time up until now. He ran decent routes, caught the ball well and provided something different for Beck.
Hankerson is running a simple crossing route here on 2nd and 2.
Its a shame Beck couldn't just hit Hank in stride, because he had plenty of room to run into as you can see there. But he does well here. This is the type of catch he would have struggled with in camp, where he'd lose focus and drop it. But he manages to have soft hands to bump it up in the air.
He maintains focus, keeps his eyes on the ball and catches the ball before trying to get extra yards. A good first reception as a starter to get him settled.
His second catch was very similar.
It's another crossing route. But this time it's on a 3rd and 12.
He gets across the field uncovered, mainly because the 49ers are in a zone coverage and are protecting the first down, but he's open nevertheless. Good arm extension to catch the ball with his hands rather than with his chest.
He cuts back inside trying to get to the first down marker, but is tackled a good few yards short. He showed good fight trying to get there, just too many defenders there to beat.
There's a lot to like about this next catch.
We saw a fair amount of this today. Hankerson was on his own on one side of the field. They are giving him experience going up one on one with a CB. This is a timing pattern, something he struggled with in pre-season.
Hankerson runs the route well enough to get a few yards of separation. He turns just as the ball is arriving, giving him the most amount of separation and not allowing the CB to make a play on the ball.
He lets this ball go into his chest, but he does complete the catch, makes sure he holds onto the ball and gets the first down on a big 3rd and 6 play.
I'm going to skip the 4th catch by Hankerson, and go straight to the two point conversion.
This is the situation we drafted him for, as a big red zone threat. They again give him one on one at the top of the field and he's running a fade. The concept is the back shoulder throw.
Hankerson does a great job of locating the ball early as he engages the CB.
He gets separation and keeps his eyes on the ball.
He brings in the pass, getting his first foot down.
But gets a quick double tap in just in case to make sure of the conversion. A lot there to be excited about. Leonard Hankerson needs to continue to improve his route running and his focus, but as we've seen here he's shown he can get separation and can be a red zone threat.
Moving swiftly onto a quick note here. How about Graham Gano's franchise record 59 yard field goal?!?! What a magical kick. I'm no kicking expert, but lets look at the pictures anyway.
Gano absolutely smashes the poor ball.
It sails through the uprights comfortably, could have been a 60 or even 61 yarder and he'd have still made it!
Yeah, you celebrate Graham, hell of a kick! Shame it was just about the only thing to celebrate during the game...
Ryan Kerrigan continues to impress with another solid outing. I was most impressed with his relentlessness, he never gave up on any play and kept his motor going all game long.
This is the Kerrigan sack. It looks like he's completely out of the play here. The RT had him blocked fine and the RG comes across to make sure of it.
Alex Smith escapes the pocket to extend the play. The Oline gives up on blocking thinking the play is dead. But Kerrigan doesn't and is hunting Smith down.
Kerrigan just lays him out. Smith actually does an amazing job t hold onto the football and looked a little bit shaken when he got up. Big plays from Kerrigan just keep coming.
His ability against the run is what impresses me the most though. He's much further along in development than Brian Orakpo in that sense, in my opinion anyway.
Teams really need to stop giving him a free run at the runner. At least chip him with a TE or something. The Redskins Dline blows up the side that Frank Gore is trying to run to, forcing him to cut back the other way.
But Gore is met by Kerrigan, who makes the tackle for a 4 yard loss.
It was a mixed day for Roy Helu. He started off with a 16 yard run, but then only managed 41 yards from 10 carries. He broke Art Monk's franchise record for receptions in a single game, with 14 for 105 yards, but he also had some drops and a fumble.
The biggest run of the day, first play of the game. We all know the speed and elusiveness Helu has. He uses it well here to get past the defender bursting through the Oline.
He just runs past all the other defenders, it takes a diving Patrick Willis to stop him from taking it all the way. Helu ends up with 16 yards on the play.
Then onto our biggest play of the game, the 17 yard catch that wasn't even intended to go to Helu (kind of sums us up right now).
John Beck has this ball deflected at the line of scrimmage. Who he was throwing to, I have no idea. I hope it wasn't to the receiver circled in red with an arrow towards the middle of the field, because that was going to get intercepted or at leas batted down.
Fortunately, the ball falls in the direction of Helu who makes a great adjustment to get the catch.
Before he is pushed out of bounds for a 17 yard gain.
As I said, Helu did have a fumble and a couple of drops. I'm going to save the fumble for play of the week, but we can have a look at one drop.
Helu appears to make the catch, and starts to turn back inside.
But he never fully secured the ball, meaning when the defender made contact...
Helu lost the ball and it fell incomplete on a 3rd down. Beck may not have been great yesterday, but drops like these definitely don't help.
I asked the question on Twitter and in another thread. Is this the last time we see Brandon Banks in a Redskins uniform? He completely muffed a punt late in the 4th.
He messes up catching the punt, looking at where to run before securing the ball.
But then, bizarrely stops and lets the 49er player have first shot and recovering it before diving on top of it. What do you think?
Brian Orakpo got himself another sack, giving him 5.5 on the season. I liked this one because he had the 49ers LT Joe Stanley thinking it was going to be a speed rush, when actually it was a bull rush.
The LT over-commits to the speed rush, leaving himself on his heals and vulnerable to a bull rush.
Orakpo shows great technique to get his pad level under that of the LT, giving him the better position to push the LT back towards Smith.
He does just that. He does a great job disengaging with the LT as soon as he's level with Smith and wraps him up before he can get the ball away.
One final thing I wanted to note. Maurice Hurt, the rookie LG who got his first start. He had his ups and downs, but played ok. The main thing I noticed was that the 49ers attacked him with the 'TEX' stunt that I explained last week. He was slow to leave the DE to Trent Williams on the outside and move onto the OLB that was coming inside. But he did hold his own against the big DE Justin Smith in a few one on ones. There is something to work with there.
Sorry if this post is all over the place, but these are just the few things that stood out in my mind after the game. What do you think? What stood out to you?