A surprising 3-1 start seems like a lifetime ago for the now Washington Redskins, who lost their fourth straight game, this time to the San Francisco 49ers in a 19-11 heartbreaker on Nov. 6 at FedEx Field.

With the loss, Washington (3-5) sank to the bottom of the NFC East after staking a claim to first place just a few weeks ago.

Washington’s defense played well against San Francisco (7-1), holding them to a series of field goals and just one touchdown. But for the second straight game with John Beck as the starter, the Redskins’ offense appeared listless, and drew boos from the home crowd throughout the game. Beck, now 0-7 as an NFL starter, has yet to find a rhythm as Washington’s trigger man, and his hold on the job may be slipping away along with the Redskins’ season.

Beck racked up 257 passing yards, but threw the ball 47 times to do so. “Sometimes it looks like it’s all the quarterback, and that’s understandable,” Washington head coach Mike Shanahan told reporters after the game. “When you lose a few pieces of the puzzle, the quarterback is going to look pretty average when we’re playing pretty average as a group.”

Washington entered the game missing a slew of starters on offense, and would have required a near picture-perfect game to upset the NFC West-leading Niners. But three turnovers and a stagnant offense doomed Washington from the start. San Francisco jumped out to a 13-3 lead before halftime and never looked back, allowing only a late touchdown in the final quarter with the game already decided.

While the team’s search for consistent quarterback play continues, their problem at running back appears to be solved. Rookie rusher Roy Helu ran for just 41 yards against a tough 49ers defense, but hauled in 14 catches for a game-high 105 yards.

Calls for backup Rex Grossman to reclaim his role as starter rang through FedEx Field as fans grew tired of failed drives behind the lackluster Beck. In Beck’s three games as a starter, Washington has averaged just over 10 points on offense, including a shutout Oct. 30 against the Buffalo Bills.

Washington will go on the road to face the Miami Dolphins (1-7) at home on Nov. 13.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO