Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick were two of the young supernovas who lit up the 2012 NFL season. They passed each other on a depressing Monday night in Washington that reminded everyone how far Griffin and his team have fallen since.
The San Francisco 49ers throttled the Redskins 27-6, moving the 49ers back into the No. 6 spot in the NFC playoff picture. It was a thorough beatdown by a team with championship aspirations facing a Redskins squad that is "evaluating" for next year.
Washington had six drives in the second half; none of them went longer than nine yards. Griffin rarely tried to throw the ball down the field. He took a number of big shots and wasn't a factor as a runner. He had his lowest passing yardage (127) of the season. His team didn't score a touchdown for the first time in his football life, dating back to his days at Baylor. The further away Griffin gets from ACL surgery, the more lost he looks.
Griffin, unlike Kaepernick, doesn't have an outstanding defense to lean on during tough times. RGIII also doesn't make the handful of beautiful throws to the outside that Kaepernick pulls off even during down weeks. And this was no down week.
Kaepernick aggressively went after the Redskins' defense down the field to Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. He gave his receivers a chance to make plays and they responded. Kaepernick averaged 9.8 yards-per-attempt with three touchdown throws, his best game since Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers.
The 49ers are 7-4, and they still can get so much better. Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith both had two sacks for an improving pass rush. Coach Jim Harbaugh announced after the game that wide receiver Michael Crabtree is expected to play next week. Defensive starters Tarrell Browns and Ray McDonald are expected back from injury.
San Francisco has proven it can crush bad teams. The 49ers have faced five teams currently with a losing record, winning by an average of 23 points. The schedule is very challenging with three division games still left, but it would be an upset if they didn't make the playoffs.