The quarterback change is all too familiar, as it will be Washington’s 10th replacement since Rivera was hired in 2020, and Heinicke will once again assume the backup role.
“It’s tough,” said Heinicke after Saturday’s loss. “Like I said before, I try not to look. I just try to roll with punches. If I start, I’ll give it my all. If not, the best backup I can.” I’m trying to be, and I’m going to keep doing that.”
Heinicke led the Commanders to a 5-3-1 record this season, turning around a dismal start to a playoff position. During that stretch, he completed his 62.2% of his passes and averaged 206.6 yards, plus he achieved a 2.0 touchdown-to-interception ratio and his passer rating of 89.6.
In three-quarters with the 49ers, Heinicke played efficiently, completing 13 of 17 passes for 166 yards, zero turnovers, two touchdowns and a 145.7 passer rating. However, the two turnovers to start the 4th quarter were two failed 4th and 1 attempts early in the game and two red zone turnovers in Week 15 against the New York Giants. combined with that prompted Rivera to make changes to the 49ers in the second half.
Wentz took over with just over nine minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Commanders trailed 30-14. Washington did not huddle and Wentz passed 10 of 11 plays on his first drive. This included a 20-yard touchdown pass to Curtis Samuel.
The rally was short, but the minimal playing time spotlighted Wentz’s strengths and raised questions about Washington’s future plans. ID to run first, relies heavily on the production of Bryan Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson at the back. It remains to be seen if Washington will maintain a similar approach with Wentz as the starter, or return to an offense focused on the passing game.
“Identities have obviously evolved over the course of the year,” Wentz said Saturday. “It’s cool to see that, and it’s cool to see guys slip into their own identities in this offense.” “All bets were off when I was there. We had to score.”
Wentz’s second shot as a starter gives him a chance to do what he couldn’t do last season. Now that the Browns and Dallas Cowboys are waiting, the commanders need to win to have the best chance of making the playoffs.
“It’s great that we still have control over our destinies. You know the old cliché,” Wentz said. “But it’s true. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it.”
This story is a work in progress and will be updated.