5 negatives from Commanders Christmas Eve loss to 49ers

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 24: Antonio Gibson #24 of the Washington Commanders carries the ball against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter of the game at Levi's Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 24: Antonio Gibson #24 of the Washington Commanders carries the ball against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter of the game at Levi's Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

On Christmas Eve, Santa delivered a bundle of switches and many lumps of coal to Washington Commanders fans following a humiliating loss to the San Francisco 49ers.  Any talk of the playoffs should be muted by now.

The Washington Commanders picked the wrong time of the season to have one of their worst games of 2022.  A total collapse in the second half and horrible coaching against the 49ers have all but doomed any hopes of a playoff slot.  How bad was it?  Did you see the onside kick from Joey Slye that traveled three yards?  With the five-yard penalty, that onside kick ended up being for -2 yards.  That play epitomized the entire second half of Saturday afternoon’s game.

Welcome to this week’s negatives from the latest game, a humbling 37-20 loss to San Francisco.  In the first half, Washington proved to the football world that they could go head-to-head against this year’s NFC West champions, but the second half was proof that many negatives will produce a loss.  Some fans believed it could happen.  Other fans thought there was a chance.  However, the reality was far different.

That is what we will focus on today – the negatives – five of them to be exact.  We’ll toss out some grades for the coaches and players.  We’ll also look at some issues that need attention and there will be a prediction for next week’s game against Cleveland.  Let’s get right to the Bah Humbug details of the 49ers game.

5 negatives for the Commanders vs the 49ers

1. The first negative from Saturday’s game is the inability to make halftime adjustments.  The Commanders experienced a colossal collapse in the second half.  The opening touchdown drive from the 49ers to the final whistle was an unmitigated disaster.  The Burgundy and Gold looked lost, confused, and completely clueless for the last two quarters.  Failure to make positive adjustments after a solid first half was the main factor in this blowout loss.

2. The second negative from the 49ers game focuses on special teams.  Each return was horrific and played a huge role in the loss.  The onside kick that netted a -2 yards result was simply mind-boggling.

3. The third negative from the loss was the coaching.  Going for a first down on fourth down at their own 34-yard line is understandable late in the game, but not early in the first half.  The play-calling on offense was often too redundant and very predictable.  Is this coaching staff allergic to giving Brian Robinson the football at the opponent’s one or two-yard line?

4.  The fourth negative is an easy one to mention – turnovers, mental mistakes, and penalties (especially personal foul penalties).  It’s a combination of these three things and it all adds up.  A playoff team can’t be having these issues so late in the season.

5. The fifth negative is the offensive line once again.  The rushing offense struggled and the 49ers’ defensive line and linebackers feasted all day with tackles for loss, sacks, two turnovers, and passes batted down.

Additional Negatives: Too many to list.

Grades for Commanders vs. San Francisco

  • Quarterbacks – Grade: D+
  • Running Backs – Grade: C
  • Tight Ends – Grade: D-
  • Wide Receivers – Grade: B
  • Offensive Line – Grade: F
  • Defensive Line – Grade: C
  • Linebackers – Grade: D
  • Cornerbacks – Grade: D-
  • Safeties – Grade: D-
  • Special Teams – Grade: D-
  • Coaches – Grade: F

Commanders Should Address These Issues

  • Don’t give Chase Young too many reps during a game.  He played more than what was originally planned for Saturday’s game.  Stick to the plan.  A healthy Chase Young in 2023 is what this team needs.
  • Joey Slye is a good kicker, but Tress Way should be considered when trying onsides kicks.
  • Brian Robinson should get the ball when the team is one or two yards away from a touchdown (subscription required).  This isn’t rocket science – stick with what works and reap the rewards.
  • Carson Wentz should be the starter in the last two games of the season (and playoffs).  Let’s see what he can do with a solid rushing offense and a healthy Chase Young on the other side of the ball.

Commanders Next Game Prediction, Final Thoughts

The Commanders return to FedEx Field to take on the Cleveland Browns this coming Sunday.  Washington’s faint playoff hopes make this game a must-win.

Commanders 24 Browns 13

KJ Record: 7-8

  • Fans should expect this team to challenge for victories.  The offense is not getting it done under Taylor Heinicke.  Benching him for the remainder of this season is the only option.
  • Sam Howell should be the primary backup for the last two games.  Let’s hope the coaches are bold enough to make this change.
  • When Kamren Curl misses a game, it is very noticeable.
  • The Commanders should continue to stick with Wentz and Heinicke.  Even though the playoff hopes are fairly diminished, you can’t start Sam Howell when the playoffs are still in play.

The team, coaches, and fans should put the 49ers game behind them in the quickest way possible.  Teams rarely, if ever, learn anything different or unusual from blowout losses.  See you as we go along.

Next. 1972: Washington's 1st playoff win in 30 years. dark