Kirk Cousins cut through San Francisco's defense through the air and on the ground in an all-around performance from Washington's starting quarterback.
Three quarterbacks started during the Washington Redskins' 26-24 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Of the three, it was Redskins signal caller Kirk Cousins that looked the most deserving of his leadership role.
The 49ers went through two quarterbacks, Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard, but neither could not match the efficiency of Cousins.
Washington's sixth-year passer started the game like a veteran, going 4-of-4 with a touchdown pass to receiver Josh Doctson on the opening drive.
Cousins, who finished the game with 330 passing yards, his second highest total of the season, remained his own worst critic after the game.
"I think we did a good job as an offense," Cousins said. "It wasn't perfect, there were a couple mistakes, but all in all we did a lot of good things."
The largest missteps in his game came during the second quarter on two questionable throws. On second down, Cousins fired deep for tight end Jordan Reed, but missed by a wide margin. Jimmie Ward went horizontal and barely grabbed the interception, but after some deliberation, the referees ruled the pass incomplete. Crisis averted.
On the very next pass, Cousins again looked deep, this time for tight end Vernon Davis. Again, the ball sailed past its mark and landed in the hands of a 49ers defender. Cornerback Rashard Robinson tiptoed in bounds with the ball secured, cutting Washington's drive short.
"I thought he played efficient," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. "He had the one pick on third-and-long. It was bad play design by us, but it was like a punt so it didn't hurt us at all."
Check out the top images from the Washington Redskins' offense in their 2017 Week 6 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers Oct. 15, 2017, at FedExField.
Cousins made up for the missed throw to Davis by throwing a laser that ended with the 33-year old tight end sprinting 51 yards to the San Francisco 22-yard line. The offense slowly crept up to the goal line before Gruden called in read-option. Cousins yanked the ball from running back Samaje Perine's arms and took it himself, barely missing the crashing defensive end before reaching the end zone.
Cousins, who ran a handful of options in the game, finished as the team's second leading rusher with 26 yards on four carries. Gruden admitted that those types of play calls are not his favorite.
"I don't love it, but I do like it. It gets the numbers back in your favor a little bit," Gruden said. "Obviously, Kirk is not exactly the read-option quarterback that you would be looking for if you were looking for a read-option quarterback, but he's very effective at it. You know, those are huge plays for us."
When Cousins wasn't taking off down the field, he was playing with confidence and poise, often wisely checking down to the safest option to avoid further turnovers. Running back Chris Thompson, one of Cousins' favorite checkdowns, ended up as the team's leading receiver with 105 yards on four receptions. Perine also made an impact in the passing game, taking a checkdown in the red zone three yards for his first career touchdown.
Of the receivers, Cousins favored fourth-year Ryan Grant. With three catches and 39 yards. Cousins said he was excited to get Grant and the other receivers more involved in the passing game.
"There are times when I can keep watching the film and I'll go back and feel like he could've caught two or three more passes but I didn't do a good job of getting him the football," Cousins said. "He has all the tools, and now in his fourth year there's a lot of confidence and experience there, so he's going to keep getting better as well."