Carson Wentz knew it, too. He promptly started working towards snaps with middle Wes Schweitzer by the bench.
After Heinicke led Washington on a 5-2-1 stretch and into the playoff hunt, his run got here to a crashing halt Saturday afternoon as turnovers and penalties felled the Commanders. Regardless of an environment friendly exhibiting for 3 quarters, he was benched for Wentz halfway by means of the fourth quarter.
The starter for subsequent week’s recreation in opposition to Cleveland is to be decided.
“We’re going to guage the tape and discuss these issues, and I’ll decide subsequent week,” Coach Ron Rivera stated. “I’ll make it early, too, as a result of whoever goes to start out goes to get the possibility to work.”
Washington (7-7-1) remains to be in seventh place within the NFC due to earlier losses within the day by the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks and nonetheless controls its playoff destiny. The Commanders’ likeliest path to the postseason is thru profitable their ultimate two video games, in opposition to the Browns and Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Discipline.
The quarterback scenario began to change into cloudy after the Commanders’ Week 15 loss to the New York Giants wherein Heinicke fumbled twice within the pink zone, costing the workforce its finest likelihood of securing a playoff berth.
His leash in Santa Clara was brief. Very brief. And even after making the change, Rivera conceded that fault on the turnovers wasn’t solely on Heinicke.
“To pin all of them on him could be actually powerful,” Rivera stated. “These weren’t his points. There have been some issues that we may’ve carried out higher.”
Heinicke went 13 for 18 for 166 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and one fumble, a stat line marred by these turnovers. He closed the primary half 8 for 11 in passing with a 126.7 score and a fantastic thing about landing move to rookie wideout Jahan Dotson within the nook of the tip zone. However Washington failed to attain on a fourth and one from the 1-yard line within the second quarter, and after the fourth-quarter turnovers, Wentz took over and led the Commanders on an 82-yard scoring drive.
Heinicke was the primary to congratulate Wentz as he trotted off the sector following his 20-yard landing move to Curtis Samuel, and he instantly acknowledged his play postgame.
“I felt like we had been enjoying good there for, what, 3½ quarters,” Heinicke stated. “Clearly, not the way you wish to begin the fourth quarter. However they made the choice to place Carson in, and I believed he did an important job and moved the ball nicely. It’s fairly cool that was his first recreation that he’s seen for some time now, and his first drive he goes down and scores a landing. He was prepared for his second.”
Wentz’s scoring move merely shaved the 49ers’ result in 10. There was already an excessive amount of self-inflicted injury for the Commanders: penalties (six, for a lack of 51 yards), turnovers (two) and large performs allowed by a beforehand stout protection — most of the similar points that hindered the begin to the season.
Going into the sport, the Commanders stated they needed to emphasise the run, particularly after Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner bemoaned the minimal touches for rookie working again Brian Robinson Jr. Getting him the ball early and infrequently and staying dedicated to the run had been priorities Saturday.
However in opposition to the 49ers’ league-leading run protection, Washington’s dedication didn’t pay dividends. On 24 first-half carries, the Commanders totaled solely 52 yards for a median of two.2 per run. Robinson completed with 22 carries for 58 yards, and the workforce had 79 yards on the bottom.
After a pair of three-and-outs to start out the sport, the Commanders’ offense discovered some semblance of rhythm on their third drive, traversing 84 web yards on 17 performs earlier than stalling on the 1-yard line, unable to transform on fourth down when Antonio Gibson was stopped brief.
“I believed we moved the ball fairly nicely there within the first half,” Heinicke stated. “We simply maintain taking pictures ourselves within the foot.”
On the opposite aspect of the ball, defensive finish Chase Younger made his season debut after an prolonged absence to get better from a knee harm. The plan was to restrict him to 12 to 16 snaps, however that was scrapped within the second half as he settled in. Younger appeared spry in his first recreation again, recording a batted move and a few tackles.
“The perfect factor, although, was his conditioning,” Rivera stated. “. . . We advised him he needed to be sincere, we had been going to belief him, and once we acquired to the fourth quarter, they requested if we needed to close him down, and I went over and talked to him straight, and he advised me, ‘Coach, I’m actually feeling nicely.’ . . . So we saved going.”
However the Commanders had been dealing with one other harm to a key defender: Do-it-all security Kam Curl was sidelined due to an ankle challenge — he stated he was near enjoying however felt he couldn’t do what he wanted after testing it pregame — and to compensate, Rivera turned primarily to Jeremy Reaves. Though he held up, breakdowns occurred elsewhere.
Within the second quarter, Washington’s run protection got here undone on a 71-yard landing by Ray-Ray McCloud III, who burst by means of the correct aspect of the road and located a large lane.
Within the third quarter, 49ers rookie signal-caller Brock Purdy discovered tight finish George Kittle large open in the midst of the sector after a protection breakdown. Security Darrick Forrest, who picked off Purdy within the second quarter to arrange the landing by Dotson, was deep and failed to trace Kittle, who sped previous him on a seam route for a 33-yard landing.
“I’ve to be higher than that,” Forrest stated. “I knew as quickly as I noticed him, that is my fault.”
Rivera, nonetheless scorching from calls that went in opposition to the Commanders in opposition to the Giants, had prolonged conversations with officers once more Saturday. Within the third quarter, the Commanders referred to as a quarterback sneak on a fourth and one in their very own territory, however after bringing the chains out to measure, officers dominated they had been brief by inches. Rivera gave the officers an earful, then watched from the sideline as Purdy once more discovered Kittle for a fast rating.
The Commanders’ response: Give Terry McLaurin a shot. An enormous one.
From his personal 43-yard line with about three minutes left within the third, Heinicke launched a 51-yard move up the center to his favourite receiver. With two defenders round him, McLaurin dove for the catch on the San Francisco 6.
“We lastly acquired the chance to get a matchup that we needed, and we took a shot down the sector,” McLaurin stated. “Taylor did only a nice job of giving me an opportunity to trace the ball, and I simply needed to come back down with it in that second.”
The Commanders entered the fourth quarter trailing by simply seven factors with Heinicke enjoying nicely, however a regression on back-to-back drives from the offense despatched the quarterback to the bench.
First, Nick Bosa hit Heinicke simply as he pulled again to throw, knocking the ball into the arms of Jordan Willis on the Washington 11-yard line. The 49ers turned it right into a subject objective that expanded their result in 27-14.
On Washington’s subsequent drive, Heinicke was intercepted by cornerback Jimmie Ward on the 25 on a brief move supposed for Robinson. The protection held, forcing a subject objective that moved the rating to 30-14.
Rivera turned to Wentz for the rest of the quarter, giving him his first snaps since Week 6, when he injured his finger and was positioned on injured reserve.
The Commanders, heads down, trudged off the sector with one other loss, presumably a unique beginning quarterback and a dwindling alternative to return to the postseason.
“It was positively bizarre, not going to lie,” Wentz stated. “I really feel for Taylor, too. I believed he performed nicely. So simply type of general bizarre, and sadly we didn’t get it carried out.”