Commanders fall to 49ers as Taylor Heinicke benched for Carson Wentz

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SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Taylor Heinicke slammed his helmet and walked down the sideline. , that was all he could do.

The Washington Commanders quarterback knew what was going to happen.

“Okay,” he said after losing 37-20. “I was pretty beaten up and the last two drives he had were two turnovers. Okay, okay.”

Carson Wentz knew it too, and immediately started practicing snaps with center Wes Schweitzer on the bench.

After Heinicke led Washington into a playoff hunt in the 5-2-1 stretch, his run came to a screeching halt Saturday afternoon as a turnover and penalty put the Commanders down. Despite playing efficiently in the third quarter, he was benched by Wentz midway through the fourth quarter.

The starter for next week’s game against Cleveland is yet to be determined.

Four points from the Commanders’ loss to the 49ers

“We’re going to evaluate the tapes and talk about them. I’ll make a decision in the final week,” coach Ron Rivera said. But it gives me the chance to work.”

Washington (7-7-1) is still No. 7 in the NFC and dominates playoff fortunes, thanks to losses early in the day by the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks. The Commanders’ most likely route to the postseason is to win his last two games against the Browns and Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field.

The quarterback situation began to cloud after the Commanders lost to the New York Giants in Week 15 and Heinicke failed twice in the red zone.

His chain in Santa Clara was short. very short. And even after making the change, Rivera acknowledged that the turnover shortcomings weren’t just Heinicke.

“It’s going to be really hard to put all those things down on him,” Rivera said.

Heinicke gained 13 of 18 yards for 166 yards, had two touchdowns, one interception, and one fumble, and those turnovers hurt his stats line. He passed the first half with his 8 out of 11 and finished with a 126.7 rating, ending with rookie wideout Jahan in the corner of his zone he scored his pass for a beautiful touchdown to Dotson. However, Washington failed to score on 4 and 1 from the 1-yard line in the second quarter, and after a fourth-quarter turnover, Wentz took over and led the Commanders on an 82-yard scoring drive.

Heinicke was the first to congratulate Wentz, who trotted off the field following a 20-yard touchdown pass to Curtis Samuel, and quickly conceded the play after the game.

“I felt like I was playing well for three and a half quarters,” Heinicke said. “Obviously not how they want to start the fourth quarter. ‘s first game and it’s pretty cool that he went down and scored a touchdown. He was ready for the moment.”

Wentz’s scoring pass only shortened the 49ers’ lead to ten. The Commanders already had too much self-harm. Penalties (6 in which he lost 51 yards), turnovers (2) and big plays made possible by a previously stout defense. — many of the same issues that prevented the season from starting.

Coming into the game, especially after Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner lamented the rookie’s minimal touches on running back Bryan Robinson Jr., the commander said he wanted to emphasize runs. It was a priority on Saturday.

But Washington’s commitment failed to pay dividends against the 49ers’ league-leading run defense. On 24 carries in the first half, the Commanders totaled 52 yards and averaged 2.2 yards per run. Robinson gained 58 yards on his 22 carries and the team had his 79 on the ground.

After a pair of three-and-outs to start the game, the Commanders’ offense found a similarity in rhythm on their third drive, passing for 84 net yards in 17 plays before stalling at the 1-yard line and giving up 4 runs. Failed to convert in Down. When Antonio Gibson was stranded.

“I think we moved the ball quite well in the first half,” said Heinicke. “We keep shooting ourselves in the foot.”

On the other side of the ball, defensive end Chase Young made his season debut after an extended absence to recover from a knee injury. The plan was to limit his snaps to his 12-16, but that was scrapped in the second half as he settled. Young looked fine in his first game, recording a bad pass and some tackles.

“But the best part was his conditioning,” Rivera said. “…We told him we had to be honest. We were going to trust him. When we got to the fourth quarter, they asked if they wanted to shut him down. I spoke to him directly, “Coach, I’m feeling really good.”

But the Commanders were dealing with another injury to a key defender. All-round safety Cam Karl was sidelined due to ankle problems. I relied on He held on, but had a breakdown elsewhere.

In the second quarter, Washington’s run defense was undone with a 71-yard touchdown by Ray Ray MacLeod, who broke through the right side of the line and found a wide lane.

In the third quarter, 49ers rookie signal caller Brock Purdy found tight end George Kittle wide open in the middle of the field after a coverage breakdown. Safety Darrick Forrest, who picked Purdy in the second quarter to set up a touchdown by Dotson, was deep and could not track Kittle, who passed him on the seam route for a 33-yard touchdown.

“I have to be better than that,” Forrest said. “The moment I met him, I knew it was my fault.”

Rivera, still hot from a call against the commanders against the Giants, had a lengthy conversation with officials again on Saturday. but after bringing the chains out to be measured, officials determined they were short of inches. was seen from the sidelines.

Commander’s Response: One shot at Terry McLaughlin. big one.

Heinicke sent a 51-yard pass to his favorite receiver to center from his own 43-yard line with about three minutes left in the third round. Around him he had two defenders and McLaughlin dove into the catch at the San Francisco 6.

“I finally got the chance to get the matchup I wanted and shot down the field,” McLoughlin said. “Taylor did a great job of giving me the chance to track the ball.

The Commanders entered the fourth quarter just seven points behind with Heinicke playing well, but back-to-back drive setbacks from the offense sent the quarterback to the bench.

First, Nick Bosa hit Heinicke as he pulled back to throw, hitting the ball into Jordan Willis’ arm at the Commanders’ 11-yard line. spread to

On Washington’s ensuing drive, Heinicke was intercepted by cornerback Jimmy Ward for 25 on a short pass for Robinson. The defense held up and forced a field goal, making the score 30-14.

Rivera relied on Wentz for the rest of the quarter, giving him his first snap since Week 6 when he injured his finger and was placed on the injured list.

The Commanders bowed and walked off the field with another loss, possibly another starting quarterback, and a diminished chance to return to the postseason.

“It was definitely weird. I didn’t mean to lie,” Wentz said. “I also sympathize with Taylor. I thought he played well. So the whole thing was weird and unfortunately we didn’t make it.”

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