SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Before DeSean Jackson signed with Washington this past April, the seventh-year wide receiver seriously considered first taking a formal visit to the San Francisco 49ers.
He played college football in the Bay Area at California in Berkeley and grew up in Long Beach.
Jackson even spoke with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh — they faced each other when Harbaugh coached Stanford — and others in the organization before the three-time Pro Bowler ultimately chose the Redskins shortly after being released by Philadelphia.
"It was a close call, and I almost made the trip to come out there," said Jackson, who will face the 49ers on Sunday. "Obviously, Washington did what they did and they kept me here and made everything right."
Despite the losing and frustrations of a disappointing season with Washington (3-7), Jackson considers himself to be in the right place.
"Being born and raised in California, would love to be there, love to play there," he said. "It was just a better fit and better situation to be where I'm at now. That played a part."
The 49ers are doing just fine with the deep and talented receiving group they have, led by Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson.
Boldin challenged this group to treat each game like a one-game season in which San Francisco faces elimination, and that seems to have struck a chord with this group — through the injuries to star defenders and an offense that has been inconsistent.
San Francisco (6-4) has won two in a row to stay in the thick of the playoff chase.
"We're right back in this thing," safety Eric Reid said. "We have to keep winning. It's a one-game season from here on out. We have to get a win if we hope to make the playoffs."
Colin Kaepernick threw for 235 yards and three touchdowns in a win at Washington last November, two of those to Anquan Boldin.
Here are some things to watch for Sunday at Levi's Stadium:
BROOKS' WORKLOAD: Ahmad Brooks expects to be right back in the mix a week after being benched for the second half of San Francisco's win against the Giants following some harsh words directed at defensive line coach Jim Tomsula.
While Brooks plans to play — he has started all 58 games under fourth-year coach Harbaugh — he said he will handle such situations differently if something similar comes up again.
"Who I am as a person, as a football player, I expect to play," Brooks said. "That's just who I am. I expect to play, I expect to be out there. That's it."
GORE'S GAINS: Following a three-game stretch in which he totaled only 39 carries, San Francisco's Frank Gore has had 42 chances the past two games and come close to his third 100-yard game of the season.
Getting Gore and the running game going usually sets the tone for the offense.
"We want to do as much as we can on offense, put up as many points as we can," Kaepernick said.
Gore (54) and the Redskins' Alfred Morris (42) have the two longest active streaks for consecutive starts by NFL running backs.
STOUT PASS RUSH: With Aldon Smith back for his second game following a nine-game suspension by the league, the 49ers will look to establish a strong pass rush again. They had six sacks in last November's matchup with the Redskins.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden is concerned with Aldon Smith and Justin Smith up front. Especially after San Francisco pressured Eli Manning into five interceptions last week.
"They continue to rush the passer well with four guys," Gruden said.
NO LETDOWNS: The 49ers withstood an exhausting two-game road stretch that took them to New Orleans, home again, then East to New York.
After two emotional, hard-fought games far from home, they're back on their own field again and beginning a three-week span with two very winnable games against Washington and Oakland. Defending Super Bowl champion Seattle visits on Thanksgiving night.
"This is the NFL. On any given Sunday, anything can happen," 49ers linebacker Michael Wilhoite said. "I'm sure Washington will come with a sense of urgency and we have to match that and be prepared for it. We can't overlook anybody. The first time you do that, you lose."
ROBERT GRIFFIN III: After Robert Griffin III expressed frustration with not only himself but others, Gruden spoke up and called for Griffin to "worry about himself."
Washington could be considered a team in turmoil given Griffin's back and forth with Gruden early in the week in the wake of a 27-7 home loss to Tampa Bay.
Griffing III later said he would never intentionally throw "my teammates under the bus."
"It's unfortunate it came to be that big of deal. We squashed everything in house, we're moving on, hopefully," Gruden said. "We're tired of dealing with the mess, we just need to focus on winning a game so we can focus on the good things, the positive things as opposed to little nitpicky stories."
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