It was supposed to be the Colin Kaepernick vs. Robert Griffin III show on Monday Night Football. Instead, Griffin was a distant afterthought with Kaepernick and the 49ers defense leading San Francisco to a 27-6 win.
Instead of highlighting two of the better young quarterbacks in the league, the matchup played out more like a highlight reel of San Francisco's defense. The 49ers' tight coverage and aggressive pass rush stymied Griffin and the Redskins all night. Griffin completed just 1-of-6 passes for minus-1 yard and an interception in the first quarter and things didn't get much better from there.
When Griffin had time to throw, he was often unable to connect with his receivers, averaging just 4.7 yards per pass. Being under duress for most of the game didn't help and Griffin took a pounding from the 49ers' front seven which landed several big hits on the Redskin quarterback. Griffin wilted under the pressure, with his interception coming just before he took a big hit from Aldon Smith.
Kaepernick didn't light the world on fire by any means, but he was efficient and connected on a handful of big plays. His ability to throw downfield separated him from Griffin and allowed the 49er receivers to make plays. Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis and the receiving corps have been criticized recently, but the unit played well. Boldin finished the night with 94 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns, his best game since he racked up 208 yards in the season-opener. Davis also found success, including a touchdown reception.
While much of the conversation was for the things Griffin failed to do, the highlight of the game should instead be how effective the 49er defense was. San Francisco has fallen a bit from its place among the most-dominant defenses in the NFL, but the 49ers looked as good as any defense in the league on Monday. With Aldon Smith back in the fold, the 49er pass rush created consistent pressure. Smith finished with two sacks, as did Ahmad Brooks, and the 49ers racked up seven quarterback hits.
Even playing without Tarell Brown in the secondary, San Francisco had no issue shutting down the Washington passing attack. While Pierre Garcon caught eight passes, he averaged just 6.0 yards per reception, less than half of his season average.
Washington entered the game leading the NFL in rushing yards per game and rushing yards per attempt, but you'd never know by watching them against San Francisco. The Redskins found very little room to run, finishing the game with 100 rushing yards while averaging 3.7 yards per attempt, both well below their season averages.
Coming into the game at 6-4 and off a loss to the Saints, some had written the 49ers off as a potential Super Bowl contender in the NFC. If the performance on Monday was any indication, that talk was well premature.
Statistically, the game was one of the worst of Griffin's NFL career. Boos rained down from the home crowd during the fourth quarter while the Redskins dropped to 3-8 and further out of playoff contention. To add injury to insult, Griffin also took an unfortunate kick the groin.
Redskins fans know the feeling.
Fantasy studs and duds
Anquan Boldin had the biggest fantasy night, finishing with five catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Kaepernick threw three touchdowns including one to Vernon Davis.
Griffin was unable to get much going finishing 127 passing yards, no touchdowns and an interception.
Niles Paul walked off for Washington, but appeared to be alright. Griffin took a number of big hits, staying down on the turf momentarily on a couple of occasions but did not miss any time.
Did they cover?
San Francisco opened as a 6-point favorite and the big second half allowed the 49ers to cover easily.
Week 13: Washington vs. New York -- 8:30 p.m. ET NBC
Week 13: San Francisco vs. St. Louis -- 4:05 p.m. ET FOX