Green, Mayhew backed into a corner Redskins must stop 49ers' Rice, Taylor

September 14, 1990|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

HERNDON,VA. — HERNDON, Va. -- Darrell Green and Martin Mayhew are from different pro football generations.

Green, 30, is in his eighth season and will step on the field Sunday for his 100th National Football League game. Mayhew, 24, is in just his second active season and will be playing in his 18th NFL game.

What they have in common is that they're the Washington Redskins' starting cornerbacks who'll be on the firing line Sunday when the Redskins play the two-time world champion San Francisco 49ers.

They'll line up against 49ers wide receivers who need no introduction -- Jerry Rice and John Taylor.

Controlling Rice and Taylor is one of the keys to stopping the 49ers.

The New Orleans Saints did it for more than 58 minutes Monday night, but in the last 90 seconds, Taylor caught a 25-yarder from Joe Montana and Rice caught a 20-yarder. That set up Mike Cofer's game-winning field goal with nine seconds remaining. The result: San Francisco 13, New Orleans 12.

It's up to the Redskins to try to contain them for 60 minutes.

"In my thinking, they're the best," Green said. "People rise and fall, and right now they're on the mountaintop, not only individually, but teamwise. We have to try and make our mark and give it our best shot, collectively and individually."

Green says it will take a total team defense against the 49ers. The Saints sacked Montana six times and knocked him off his rhythm. Even the crowd at the Louisiana Superdome helped because it was so noisy the 49ers couldn't call an audible and players jumped offsides several times because they couldn't hear the snap count.

The first question is how the Redskins will play the 49ers.

Traditionally, they have lined up Green on the opposing team's best receiver. He then plays him one-on-one all over the field.

Against the Phoenix Cardinals last week, Washington changed things, using more zone defense than usual, and Green didn't always cover Roy Green all over the field.

Was that a one-game switch or will it last longer?

"That's not something we'll discuss," Green said. The 49ers will find out Sunday.

The 49ers and the Redskins, regarded as the best teams of the 1980s, don't have much of a recent history against each other, having met only three times since Rice came into the league in 1985.

When Rice was a rookie, he saw limited action and didn't catch a pass in the 49ers' 35-8 victory. In 1986, Green hurt his shoulder intercepting a pass in the first quarter and didn't play the rest of the game. Rice caught 12 passes, but the Redskins won, 14-6.

When they previously met, in 1988, both were playing hurt. Rice caught a pass tipped by Green and went 80 yards for a touchdown in the 49ers' 37-21 victory. The rest of the game, Rice caught two passes for 25 yards.

"I haven't had a big banner year [game] against him, and I don't really think he's just really killed me," Green said.

Rice said of Green: "He has to be the top defensive back. He has great speed. It's going to be very competitive."

Mayhew, who spent a year on the Buffalo Bills injured-reserve list in 1988 before signing with the Redskins as a Plan B free agent last year, said he knows the 49ers only from television.

He didn't want to talk about covering Taylor. "I want to concentrate on what I have to do, instead of thinking about what I'm going to say to you," he said.

Mayhew downplayed the challenge. "We have to keep it in perspective," he said. "It's not the Super Bowl."

Mayhew has big plans for his career. "I'd like to become one of the better corners in the league. I think to set a goal anything short of that is not really to aspire to do your best," he said.

NOTES: James Wilder arrived in Detroit yesterday and passed his physical, enabling defensive lineman Eric Williams to practice with the Redskins for the first time.... Fred Stokes had another good practice, despite his ailing shoulder, so he should be ready to play Sunday.

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