American Football

2 X-factors for Saturday: Jimmie Ward and the secondary have their hands full with Terry McLaurin

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2 X-factors for Saturday: Jimmie Ward and the secondary have their hands full with Terry McLaurin
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Another week where the 49ers secondary will be tested. Washington has a trio of wide receivers that can hurt you in multiple ways.

If the 49ers wish to continue their winning streak, there are two matchups in particular that they’ll need to take advantage of. Washington is a playoff team as of today. This week’s matchup will be intriguing for these two reasons.

Defense: Jimmie Ward

Ward deserves a ton of credit for accepting his new role as a slot cornerback. Admittedly, it wasn’t the smoothest transition. Ward was invaluable in his free safety position.

Even during his contract year, being the team-first player, he speaks volumes to Ward’s character. The past few weeks have seen a spike in his play.

This week presents a unique challenge for Ward. Curtis Samuel shares the same last name as Deebo and mirrors his play in many ways.

Samuel runs 70 percent of his routes from the slot. Washington finds ways to get Samuel the ball in space with designed runs or screen passes that function as an extension of the running game.

Ward will be tasked with containing Samuel in any fashion.

It’s a challenge, but Ward is more than up to the task.

Offense: Brock Purdy

Washington enters Saturday’s game allowing the third most yards per game (308.9) and the eighth most passing yards per game (197.2).

Regarding rushing yards per game, Washington is 11th in the NFL with 111.6. The 49ers will undoubtedly continue to run the ball. Kyle Shanahan has shown confidence in Purdy to execute the air attack.

This week will be another test for Purdy. Continuing to gain reps facing defenses that adjust with more and more tape to reference is essential for the rookie.

A victory may come down to the rookies’ ability to win through the air.

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