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Need to Know: How do these Redskins compare to the 2004 49ers that McCloughan took over?

May 31, 2015, 6:04 AM EDT

Redskins offense huddle Texans

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 22, four days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.

(I’m out on vacation this week. I’ll have new posts here starting tomorrow but I’ll also be bringing back some of the more popular and talked about posts from the past. Enjoy the “best of” posts and if you’re in Corolla, NC give me a shout!)

(Note that this was published on Jan. 11 so we’ve had a draft and free agency since then.) 

If Redskins fans want Scot McCloughan to build a winning team, they will need to be patient since he will build mostly through the draft. How patient? Well, McCloughan started picking personnel for the 49ers in 2005. They didn’t have a winning season until they went 13-3 and lost in the NFC title game in 2011.

But McCloughan doesn’t think it will take that long to bring at least some degree of success to Washington. Why? He believes he’s starting out with better material to work with.

“Coming in here, this roster, from what I know about right now, was much more improved than the 49ers,” he said during his introductory news conference on Friday.

It’s easy to say that before really digging in to the roster and seeing what’s there and, more importantly, what isn’t. But does that statement pass the smell test? Let’s compare the 49ers in 2004, the year before McCloughan came to that organization, to the Redskins team he is now in charge of.

Here are a few numbers to chew on.


The first glance tells you that these are two pretty bad football teams. Neither ranked in the top 10 in anything listed here. Mostly they were well below average. We don’t want to get too much into the weeds on analyzing the numbers here but they do show that the ’14 Redskins were probably a bit better than the ’04 Niners but both had well-deserved poor records.

How about the players? Tim Rattay and Ken Dorsey split the snaps at quarterback. They combined for a sub-mediocre passer rating of 69.9. Last year Kirk Cousins, Robert Griffin III, and Colt McCoy combined for an 88.8 passer rating. While the futures of all three of the Redskins QB’s are up in the air, they are probably will have better careers than Dorsey and Rattay.

At running back, Alfred Morris is better than Kevan Barlow. On their worst days, ’14 Redskins wide receivers Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson can run circles around Cedrick Wilson and Brandon Lloyd, the leading wide receivers for those 49ers. Neither offensive line was anything to write home about but that 49ers team didn’t have anyone as good as Trent Williams, who has been named to three straight Pro Bowls.

49ers defensive tackle Bryant Young was still starting but past his prime while future Redskins defensive end Andre Carter was injured for about half of the season. Nobody came close to matching the 13.5 sacks that Ryan Kerrigan posted this year; end John Engelberger led the ’04 49ers in sacks with six. Neither secondary had a standout player.

I’m not sure that this Redskins team is “much” better than that 49ers team, as McCloughan said but it does appear that the ’14 Redskins were a bit further away than rock bottom than the ’04 49ers were. McCloughan probably does have a few more effective players to work with than he did 10 years ago.. But he still has his work cut out for him.


—It’s been 154 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 105 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 16; Redskins training camp starts 60; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 116

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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  1. nealc53 - May 31, 2015 at 11:46 AM

    Hey we were just NFC champs a few years ago soooo = I think with a few(already got) can compete!!

  2. hk2000 - May 31, 2015 at 12:20 PM

    No mention of coaches? Do the players just get together and just go out there and wing it? Actually, that’s about right, or at least that seems to have been the case for our team last year.

    • bangkokben - May 31, 2015 at 12:59 PM

      That’s what it looked like in 2013 when Shanahan finished the year 0-9 not in any of the games (except for Atlanta going for two at the end) and 0-6 in the division.

      • hk2000 - Jun 2, 2015 at 12:08 AM

        OK, so let’s say Shanahan was a mediocre coach- although I think that was because he started mailing it in half way through the season- does that mean we should accept a mediocre coach as replacement? Shanahan is gone, I’m not concerned with him, as for the current coach, unless he does a 180 in a hurry, we’re doomed- I’m bracing for a replica of Zorn’s second season here- Hope I’m wrong.

        • bangkokben - Jun 2, 2015 at 9:47 AM

          My point is that Shanahan had full control and made an utter mess. He built a team that fits his system. In the draft he hit on some pieces and made solid 1st round picks but who did he develop in his time in Washington. No one. There’s no fifth round picks that were just special teamers that grew into solid backups that could one day be a starter. None. So ANY new coach walking into his mess is not going to turn it around in a day. The overhaul of his O-line and his defense is now in full swing. Does that mean these units will be better? No, but it does mean that these units won’t be holding the team back and improvement can now move forward. Gruden may be a mediocre coach but he knew the “S” storm he was walking into when he took the job or he wouldn’t have gotten a guaranteed 5-year contract. Because this isn’t an easy fix. You suggesting that the team must be vastly improved in year one or the coach inept is simply premature. The coach will improve and the team will improve.

  3. mr.moneylover - May 31, 2015 at 7:30 PM

    We should all know its gonna take time to build a team with good depth….the redskins problem for years has been playing players who got a big contract more so then playing players who work hard to get playing time then on top of that they was drafting bad players…if its a culture change that gotta change for sure and I believe it will under GM scot m….pressure will be on jay gruden if we have another dead season again…Scot m.will clear house and bring in the coaches he feel will help his team…scot m. Dont just sit on the side and talk and enjoy the weather he looking at the coaches and how the players respond

    • Skulb - May 31, 2015 at 11:49 PM

      As long as there`s improvement I think Gruden continues after 2015. That means 5-11 or better. Not hard to improve in Washington, so that`s one thing we have going. Looking at the roster there should be no reason not to demand a winning season though. I swear people have won the SB with less talent than the Skins have on the roster. At least on paper.

  4. skinsdiehard - Jun 1, 2015 at 1:20 AM

    Seriously? You must be top 10 to be above average? There are 32 teams. I think above 16 is above average. Clearly, the Skins offense was better than the 2004 49ers’ offense. The Skins were more than just “probably a little bit better” than the 49ers were. This is just another example of the local media wanting to create a point that the Skins are always the worst team in the league. In their minds, if the Skins rank 29th, that means 32nd. Or if they rank 26th in a category, it essentially means they are 32nd. It’s actually amazing.

  5. JC - Jun 1, 2015 at 8:57 PM

    Not a very good comparison. Last years team had skill players on offense but the quarterbacks did a poor job of distributing the ball, though they were most effective with Cousins when he was not turning the ball over. The offensive line is somewhat responsible for the offensive inconsistency. The defense has lacked a consistent pass rush for a long time. The secondary will always be taxed when the guys up front can’t get to the quarterback. The Redskins are by no means a player or two away from being a contender. The 49ers just plain sucked back then.

  6. macjacmccoy - Jun 2, 2015 at 8:09 PM

    I know your talking about where he started at but whats more important is what you will have once he gets there. Like what pieces you have now that will still be there when your ready to make a superbowl run. Let’s be real Redskins are probably 3-4 years away from being true Superbowl contenders and that’s if every thing goes right. Injuries drafts, off field trouble etc.. So will Desean and Garcon still be there and even if they are will they still be of any real value. Will Kerrigan still be in his prime. Morris most definitely will be gone or at the end. Trent should still be at a high level, If 1 of your QBs turn it around they would be in there prime still. You will probably need 2 corners by then.

    See what I’m saying? I think the same way with the Eagles. Thats why I like what Chip did the last few year. He got much younger across the board knowing that the team was a year or 2 away from contending. If he would have kept Desean, Maclin, Herrimans, Cole, McCoy, Casey, Williams, Fletcher, and Allen that by the time they were good enough to contend most of those players wouldn’t have been in there prime anymore. Meaning their window would be closed pretty quickly if it even opened at all. Now even though the time table got pushed back from possibly being able to contend this season to probably the 16″ or 17″ season. Now once they get there they will have multiple years to compete instead of 1 or 2.

    • macjacmccoy - Jun 2, 2015 at 8:35 PM

      When I say truly contend I’m not talking about being a 6th seed like the Giants or Ravens and making a magic run. Any team that makes in the playoffs can do that. Heck the Eagles and Redskins could get lucky this year and put together a 4 game winning streak. No what I’m talking about is being like the Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, and Packers teams that have been favorites to win it all the last 3+ years. If any Redskins fan thinks they’re team will be there before 17″-18″ they are completely delusional. Same thing goes for any Eagles fan that thinks they can be that team before 16″-17″.

      Both teams have high ceiling qbs who have played really well and also really badly do to injuries. If they both regain something then those dates are probably on target. If they both have seasons like they did the last 2 years then we’re probably talking 5 year minimum for both teams. If that happens who knows it will probably be even longer considering both teams would probably have to start rebuilding again in that situation. Archives

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