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Need to Know: First look at Redskins-49ers

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Need to Know: First look at Redskins-49ers

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, November 20, five days before the Washington Redskins host the San Francisco 49ers.

Nickel coverage

Five things you need to know about the Redskins-49ers game:

1. The Redskins and 49ers both have lost their last two games. The similarity in their recent experiences ends there. Washington lost to the Vikings, now 2-8, and the mediocre Eagles. San Francisco lost fourth-quarter leads to Carolina and New Orleans, two of the top teams in the NFC.

2. One storyline in San Francisco that is familiar around these parts is that Colin Kaepernick is having some trouble equaling his 2012 performance, when he started the last seven games and helped get the Niners to the Super Bowl. His completion percentage is down (56.2% this year vs. 62.4% in 2012) as is his yards per attempt (6.8 vs. 8.6) and his interception percentage is up (2.8% vs. 1.4%). After being hailed as a superstar in the making nine months ago, many are wondering if he can be much more than a competent starter.

3. Cause or effect? It’s not like Kaepernick is operating in a target-rich environment. Anquan Bouldin (47) and Vernon Davis (34) have 57 percent of the team’s receptions. That is quite top heavy. Their third leading receiver, fullback Bruce Miller, has 12 catches.

4. But just like the Redskins’ struggling QB can hand off to Alfred Morris, Kaepernick has ageless wonder Frank Gore to pound the rock. He is on pace to do what he’s done for six of the last seven years, rush for between 1,100 and 1,200 yards. He’s 30 and he has over 2,400 career touches and he’s still going strong. If I’m Morris, I hunt him down before the game and ask for longevity tips.

5. Redskins fans lamented the departure of cornerback Carlos Rogers, who played the first six seasons of his career with the Redskins after being their first-round pick in the 2005 draft. He signed with the 49ers as a free agent in 2011. It looked particularly bad when Rogers picked off six passes and made the Pro Bowl in that first season in San Francisco. Although he remains a solid starter and is a player the Redskins certainly could use, he has picked off just two passes in the last two seasons. That keeps him off of the highlight shows so he’s now out of the minds of many Redskins fans.

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Timeline

—Days until: Monday night 49ers @ Redskins 5; Giants @ Redskins 111; Chiefs @ Redskins 18

—Today’s schedule: Player availability 11:15; Practice 1:00; Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan news conferences after practice (approx. 3:00)

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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrence Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins draft oft-injured Auburn CB Joshua Holsey with their final pick

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Redskins draft oft-injured Auburn CB Joshua Holsey with their final pick

The Redskins haven't shied away from using draft picks on players with an injury history, and that trend continued all the way to their final pick of the draft with Auburn CB Joshua Holsey.

Holsey missed parts of the 2013 and 2015 seasons at Auburn due to torn ACLs, but rebounded with a strong season in 2016. He had 30 tackles, three interceptions and 10 passes defended in his senior season.

RELATED: REDSKINS ROLL THE DICE ON 7TH ROUND SAFETY

He was overlooked through most of the draft process due to his injury history and was snubbed at the combine. 

The seventh round is a spot to take a flier on a guy who has some traits you like, and this certainly fits the bill with the pick of Joshua Holsey. 

MORE REDSKINS: ANOTHER TALL WR? 3 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ROBERT DAVIS