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'Monday Night Football' preview: Six things to watch

For all of the talk about Robert Griffin III's relationshipwith hisWashington Redskins teammates and coachMike Shanahan, the bigger story is that he's not a good quarterback right now.

As dual-threat quarterbacks took the league by storm last season, Griffin and Colin Kaepernick dominated offseason NFL coverage. Both remain capable of producing the highlight play or the big game, but they have struggled to find consistency this season.

Whereas Kaepernick's worst games have come against defenses ranked in the top five, Griffin has not faced a single defense ranked in the top-16 entering Monday night's game.

Doing the majority of his damage in garbage time this season, Griffin faces a stiff test against a 49ers defense that leads the league with 13.4 points per game allowed since Week 4.

Here's what we'll be watching for Monday night:

  1. Griffin's offense has averaged a respectable 23.2 points over the past five games, but he will have trouble matching that number with two key starters out of the lineup. Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson is out for the season after tearing his ACL and LCL in last week's loss to the Eagles. Promising rookie tight end Jordan Reed is will miss Monday's game after a concussion.
  1. The 49ers' offense enters the game shorthanded as well. Minus Michael Crabtree, the wide receivers have struggled to separate from man coverage all season. Frank Gore's successful ground attack takes a hit with offensive guard Mike Iupati out at least another week or two with an MCL sprain.
  1. Redskins running back Alfred Morris is proving his rookie season was no fluke. After finishing second only to Adrian Peterson in rushing yards last season, he's leading the league in yards per game this season.
  1. As well as the 49ers' defense has played, it failed to generate a pass rush against a mediocre Saints offensive line last week. They need Pro Bowl linebacker Aldon Smith to channel his 2012 form after playing 64 percent of the snaps in his second game back from suspension.
  1. With Tarell Brown out, 49ers cornerback Tramaine Brock will make his first NFL start two days after signing a four-year, $16 million contract extension. Undrafted out of Belhaven College in 2010, Brock is having a breakout season after entering training camp behind Brown, Nnamdi Asomugha and Chris Culliver on the depth chart.
  1. As well as the Cardinals are playing on a four-game winning streak, the 49ers can't afford to lose this game on the road. The final playoff spot in the NFC could come down to the season finale, with the 49ers traveling to Arizona.
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