The ideal scenario for a team facing a Thursday kickoff is a blowout victory the Sunday prior in which most of the starters are wearing baseball caps in the fourth quarter. The 49ers didn't do that Sunday, requiring a late fourth-down conversion, a late touchdown drive and all sorts of nail biting before winning their game.
Still, there were several positives when it comes to a quick turnaround, beginning with the fact that the 49ers did, in fact, win and have some momentum heading into Thursday's showdown with Seattle. Washington also ran only 55 plays, and its longest drives were 10 and seven plays long. The 49ers defense forced five three-and-outs, all of which made for a light-ish day of work for players like Justin Smith, Antoine Bethea, Chris Borland and Michael Wilhoite.
There also weren't very many injuries. Tight end Derek Carrier (foot) and safety Eric Reid (ankle) left the game but returned (although Carrier didn't play many snaps, 11 total). Special teamer Bubba Ventrone – whose presence, by the way, has had a real impact on the 49ers' once shoddy coverage units – was hurt on the final punt.
The biggest concern is tight end. The 49ers have loved to run two tight-end sets in recent years but couldn't do so with both Vance McDonald (hip) and Carrier out of the game for stretches. It's possible that Garrett Celek (back) is ready to come back and contribute. He remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list but could be added to the 53-man roster at any time.
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Other snap-related items:
* Aldon Smith started the game at right outside linebacker and led that unit with 52 snaps, which is two fewer than he played against the Giants. Ahmad Brooks, the starter on the other side, played 37 snaps while Aaron Lynch played 21 snaps. Outside linebackers Dan Skuta, Corey Lemonier and Chase Thomas all were in uniform but played special teams only. None of those players logged a lot of playing time and Smith, of course, has played nine fewer games than anyone else.
* Washington running back Alfred Morris gained 125 yards and averaged six yards a carry against San Francisco's defense, a huge concern with Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks arriving Thursday. Nose tackle Glenn Dorsey was not healthy enough to start Sunday, and it would be a surprise if he's able to make up enough ground to play Thursday. Quinton Dial started at nose tackle, played 24 snaps but did not record a tackle.
* At wide receiver, Stevie Johnson played 23 snaps and Brandon Lloyd was on the field for 11 plays. Neither, however, caught a pass, the first time that has happened this season. Both were targeted once. That's a bit of a surprise given that Washington's secondary was ravaged by injuries and that the team had to use backup safeties to play cornerback at times.
The 49ers have been light on tight ends at other times this season, and they've responded by going with wide receiver-heavy offenses (with very mixed results). If that's the case against Seattle, Lloyd and Johnson will see more work than they did Sunday.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.