Washington’s Loss Is One for the Books


Now that the 49ers have been guaranteed at least 10 regular-season victories because of a 2-0 start and eight upcoming gimmies against the NFC West’s pushovers, they can begin thinking about resting their starters for the playoffs.

Playing a Nebraska-like schedule, the 49ers dispatched the Akron Zips, otherwise known in NFL circles as the Washington Redskins, 45-10, on Monday night before 76,798 in Jack Kent Cooke Stadium with San Francisco quarterback Steve Young throwing for three touchdowns and running for another.

It was San Francisco’s seventh- consecutive victory over the Zips, ah, Redskins, and left Washington football fans, who witnessed the worst home defeat in 50 years, calling for impeachment hearings--even though Coach Norv Turner has three years remaining in his term.


“I don’t know--1948--I wasn’t even born,” Washington wide receiver Leslie Shepherd said. “I could care less about the worst loss here. Any time you get booed in your home stadium something’s going wrong.”

Turner, responsible for obstructing any chance the Redskins had of making a franchise turnaround after the panic switch from quarterback Gus Frerotte--signed to a huge contract last season--to Trent Green in the second game of the season, has compiled a 26-38-1 record in office.

Frerotte took a beating in last week’s loss to the Giants, but a skittish Turner acknowledged later that he intended to start Green in the second week of the season regardless of Frerotte’s physical condition. That, after building a team in the off-season around Frerotte, and then jumping to Green, who had the benefit of throwing one career pass coming into this season after being an eighth-round draft pick of the Chargers in 1993.

Green was so bad early in his career the quarterback-starved Chargers cut him. No one claimed him, and he sat at home in 1994, played five weeks in 1995 for British Columbia and then sat on the Redskins’ bench without ever getting into a game until last year.

The Redskins ran 1,028 plays last season and allowed Green to participate in one. He threw an incomplete pass. But now he’s the Redskins’ savior, Turner confirming after the drubbing by the 49ers that Green will remain in command.

“We have to continue to fight,” said Turner, and if that’s any indication of his pregame pep talks then the final results are understandable. “We can play a lot better.”

Charles Mann, a former defensive lineman for the Redskins when Joe Gibbs had the team winning, is working for a local TV station and spent his time after the game asking his former teammates if they had quit.

“That’s what I saw,” Mann told cornerback Darrell Green.

But Green disagreed, which is not encouraging news, because if the Redskins didn’t quit, they must be just terrible.

The 49ers rolled up 504 yards in offense with Young completing 21-of-32 passes for 303 yards and running back Garrison Hearst gaining 138 yards in 22 carries.

Two years ago Turner bought himself more time by shifting the blame for the team’s failures to defensive coordinator Ron Lynn, firing him and then hiring Mike Nolan from the Giants to take over. Now what?

“Losing is disappointing, but the thing is when we were in situations that would be our strength, we were not able to capitalize,” Green said. “That’s the demoralizing part, but there’s 14 games left. . . .”

Now that’s the demoralizing part.

“What was the problem with the game?” snapped Washington defensive lineman Dan Wilkinson. “The whole game. This is a case of the Redskins not coming out and playing like the Redskins.”

If a team cannot come out inspired to play its best on national television, when will it answer the call?

Washington had taken a 7-0 lead on Green’s nine-yard pass to Shepherd, but the 49ers jumped to a 21-10 lead in the second quarter and then benefited from another Redskin short-coming: Wide receiver Michael Westbrook’s lack of discipline.

Westbrook, who beat up teammate Stephen Davis last year and then cost the team a playoff-clinching win by drawing a penalty for removing his helmet in a fit of rage, cost the team another touchdown that would have had the 49ers ahead only 21-17 at the half.

Westbrook grabbed the facemask of 49ers’ cornerback Antonio Langham, negating Green’s three-yard touchdown pass to Shepherd. After that, the 49ers went on to outscore the Redskins, 24-0.

“Our character is going to be tested now,” Turner said. “Our ability to respond is going to be tested, our ability to compete, our ability to coach. . . .”

It’s going to be a long, long season.