Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 26, 2013
LANDOVER, Md. — If Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III have become the future of football suddenly put on hold, consider Kaepernick the one more likely to get going again.
The young, mobile quarterbacks who have struggled in 2013 after breakout years in 2012 faced off for the first time Monday night, and Kaepernick clearly outperformed his counterpart as the San Francisco 49ers broke a two-game losing streak with a 27-6 win over the Washington Redskins.
Kaepernick completed 15 of 24 passes for 235 yards — the first time in five games he’s topped 200 yards — with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Redskins bottled up Frank Gore (13 carries, 31 yards), essentially daring Kaepernick to throw the ball, and the QB responded by showing some veteran-like chemistry with veteran Anquan Boldin.
“We showed people we can pass the ball,” Gore said. “That’s big for this team.”
Boldin finished with five catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns — a 19-yard grab at the pylon in the first quarter and a 6-yard, wide-open-in-the-end-zone reception in the third.
Vernon Davis also had a touchdown catch for the 49ers (7-4), who are tied for second with the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West and are three games back of the Seattle Seahawks with five to play.
“We knew what type of game this was for us. We’re right in the hunt,” Boldin said. “We’ve got to come out with a win.”
A loss would’ve put the defending NFC champions in trouble in their quest to return to the playoffs, but they’re nowhere as bad off as the Redskins (3-8), who have dropped three straight and sit alone in last place in the NFC East a year after a late-season run that won the division.
Kaepernick and Griffin seemed poised to take the quarterback position to a new dimension last season when they wowed the NFL with their mobility when running zone-read and play-action.
But defenses have adjusted, and the two QBs’ stats have tumbled accordingly when they’ve been forced to throw in conventional drop-back situations.
Griffin’s fall has been more precipitous. He threw his 11th interception Monday night, more than twice the number he had all last season.
He completed 17 of 27 passes for 127 yards and was sacked four times, and Washington tallied only 190 total yards. RG3’s throws were off-target, and the Redskins were again the victim of questionable clock management, including a timeout that was called while the clock was already stopped on a hurry-up drive in the final minute of the first half.
The 49ers led 10-6 at the half, and the Redskins had their best chance to take the lead when they took over in San Francisco territory after a fumble on the opening drive of the third quarter. But, on a fourth-and-2 at the 41, Washington gave the ball to backup tailback Roy Helu, who was stopped short of the first down.
The 49ers took over and drove for a score that gave them a double-digit lead for good, with Kaepernick and Boldin hurdling into each other for a celebratory chest-bump after the 6-yard touchdown pass.
There would be no such celebrations for Griffin, who took some flak last week from teammate Santana Moss for not taking enough responsibility for mistakes.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for everyone after the game, including some for coach Mike Shanahan, whose future is unclear as his team heads for a third last-place finish in his four years in Washington.
Griffin’s interception came on the final play of the first quarter, when he unwisely unloaded while being decked by Aldon Smith.
Griffin rolled over onto his stomach and lay there for several seconds. He wasn’t injured, but perhaps he was mulling over a quarter in which he went 1 for 6 for minus-1 yard and a pick — in a rare home game in which no one was chanting “R-G-3!”