The Redskins had the earliest scheduled bye on the NFL season, and it may have come at the right time. Back to work this week, though, the team faces 12 more regular season games starting with Sunday's 49ers matchup.
Following a contest in which a banged up Washington Redskins squad came up just short against the Kansas City Chiefs, the team enjoyed a Week 5 bye to recover from a tough early season schedule.
The Week 5 bye was the earliest scheduled week off for four teams, as the Redskins along with the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos did not play over the weekend.
Most players stuck around in Loudoun County, Va., as did running back Chris Thompson who has been one of Washington's top contributors so far this season.
"This year I felt that it was different, a lot of guys really just stayed here and just kind of hung around," Thompson said. "It was just funny because Kirk [Cousins] asked me and he said to him it seemed like a lot of people just stayed this year, but we're back at it now, so we're excited to get on this 12-game stretch and the ultimate goal is to win out, I wish we could, but that's our focus, just focus on San Fran this week and just take it week by week."
Cornerback Bashaud Breeland added that the bye afforded the team time to "refresh our minds." They hadn't been off for more than a few days since the offseason back in July.
"It [gave] us a good chance of putting [the loss to the Chiefs] behind us and going forward for this 12-game stretch," Breeland said. "…The motto going is the same motto coming out. We're going to put that behind us and get ready to prepare for the 49ers."
Whether or not an early bye helps or hurts a team in the long run can be debated, but Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is confident the team will be prepared for the final three months of the regular season starting with Sunday's game against the 49ers at FedExField in Landover, Md.
"Obviously the injuries are a little bit of a concern, but for the most part, the bye happens when it happens," Gruden said. "Now we just have to understand we have 12 weeks of straight ball. That's just 12 straight weeks. These guys have to commit themselves to a long haul. You'd like to break up it at maybe the halfway point like we had last year, but now that we know when it is, we have to just adjust our schedules and really all commit ourselves to the grind of the NFL season 12 weeks in a row – hopefully 13, hopefully 14, 15 weeks in a row."
While the 49ers enter Sunday's matchup as one of three teams in the NFL at 0-5 (the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns being the others), the Redskins aren't going to take San Francisco lightly.
After being blown out in the regular season opener against the Carolina Panthers, the 49ers' last four losses have been by a combined 11 points. Additionally, the have lost back-to-back games in overtime.
"They have pieces to be good," Gruden said. "They're just trying to implement a system and I think it will take some time, but they're very dangerous. That's for sure."
The 49ers have a few familiar faces including wide receiver Pierre Garçon, who spent five seasons in Washington. Twice the Mount Union product recorded 1,000-yard campaigns and holds the franchise single-season record for receptions (113) set in 2013.
Defensively, the 49ers are led by veteran linebackers NaVorro Bowman, Ray-Ray Armstrong and Elvis Dumervil.
"I don't think you can underestimate any team," said tight end Vernon Davis, who spend nine-plus seasons with the 49ers. "This is the NFL, so everyone's good. You can't take anyone lightly. You have to go in with a will-to-win attitude and approach this game like it's the last and try to come out with a victory."