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Landover, Md. • Thanks to the way he played during a late touchdown drive and the troubles his offensive teammates are having, former BYU star John Beck is likely to remain the Washington Redskins' starting quarterback.
If that sounds like an odd convergence of circumstances, it covers the state of the Redskins these days. In their 19-11 loss to San Francisco at FedEx Field on Sunday, the Redskins patched together another offensive lineup and managed to produce a field goal at the end of the first half and a touchdown and two-point conversion in the last 90 seconds.
That represented improvement after Washington was shut out by Buffalo last weekend, but it was not enough to threaten the 49ers.
Coach Mike Shanahan offered the standard response to questions about Beck's status, amid the Redskins' injury-related reshuffling on offense. "Sometimes, it looks like it's all about the quarterback and that's understandable," he said. "When you lose a few pieces of the puzzle, the quarterback is going to look pretty average, and we are pretty average as a group. We need to get better."
Beck completed 30 of 47 passes for 254 yards, with a poorly thrown ball resulting in an interception that led to a 49ers field goal in the first half. A big chunk of his yardage came on a final drive against a soft defense, although his 9-yard touchdown pass to Jabar Gaffney could not be labeled meaningless.
Beck's two-point conversion pass to Leonard Hankerson cut the lead to eight points, before the 49ers recovered Washington's onside kick.
With former Utah State tight end Chris Cooley out for the season and receiver Santana Moss temporarily sidelined, injuries have taken away Beck's top targets. He did not complete anything resembling a downfield pass Sunday, partly because he was determined to avoid being sacked and sometimes because his throws were way off target.
As television replays showed, as Beck confirmed after sideline discussions with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, he occasionally failed to see open receivers downfield. "There were a few where I could have waited a second longer and had a shot at something," Beck said.
Even two of his completions turned out badly, when Washington receivers fumbled the ball and the 49ers recovered.
Asked what went wrong with the offense, Beck said, "I have a few answers to myself right now, but I can't pinpoint it on one thing. There's a lot of things I can improve on as a player, that I can do better, and that's my main focus right now."
While the 49ers' long possessions reduced Washington's opportunities in the second half, the Redskins had two promising drives end with fourth-down incompletions. Beck went 20-for-27 for 168 yards in the second half.