The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers rivalry is one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the NFL. This matchup has included some of the best games in the history of the NFL. The two teams do not play each other every year, but once every three years due to the NFL's division rotating schedules. At this time the series is currently tied at 16-16-1. This series is known as one of the most historic and intense in the NFL and this year's game should be a good game as well.
Dallas Cowboys offense versus San Francisco 49er defense
The Dallas Cowboys have some injury issues on the offensive side of the ball in right guard Zach Martin and wide receiver Terrance Williams, who are both listed asTerrance Williams
questionable. Martin practiced Thursday and Friday in a limited role, whereas Williams did not practice on Thursday, but did practice on Friday in a limited role. Martin is nursing a hurt foot and Williams is nursing a hurt back. Both of these players are vital to the success of the Cowboy offense.
On offense the Cowboys must commit to running the football and stay with it. The 49er defense is built on speed and is much better versus the pass than the run. The Cowboys would be wise to run the ball behind left tackle Tyron Smith at right defensive end Justin Smith. Smith has had a very good NFL career, but he is now 34 years old and is undersized at 285 pounds. Another weak spot on the 49er defense is the speed of their nose guard Quinton Dial, who has great size at 6'5, 319 pounds, but he runs a 5.29 40.
The Cowboys need to run the ball off the left guard's outside shoulder in the "3" hole, or off the left tackle's outside shoulder, the "5" hole. The Cowboys must make Dial move and wear him out in the running game, so when they do pass he will not be able to get much of a push in the middle so Tony Romo can step up in the pocket to get away from Ahmad Brooks.
Speaking of Ahmad Brooks, the Cowboys have to make sure they know where he is and get him blocked. He probably will line up on the left side of the ball versus Doug Free, the Cowboy right tackle. At times Free can struggle versus speed pass rushers, so the Cowboy coaching staff must be ready to give him some help. They can help Free by lining the tight end beside him to chip Brooks and have the running backs help chip him on passing plays.
Dallas Cowboys defense versus San Francisco 49er offense
The Dallas Cowboys must be able to slow down the 49er running game and make the 49ers be one dimensional forcing them to throw the ball. This will be a very tough task for the Cowboys because the 49ers have a very good offensive line and the defensive tackles the Cowboys will be playing mostly with have been injured and not able to get in much work during the preseason. The bell cow for the 49er's running game last season was Frank Gore, rushing for 1,128 yards and 9 touchdowns. Gore is past his prime at 31 years old, but he isFrank Gore
still a very good weapon. Rookie running back Carlos Hyde is a very talented runner with good size and speed. The Dallas Cowboys defense must also be very aware of Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick is a great athlete and does a great job with the zone read and pulling the ball down to run when there are no receivers open. The Cowboy defensive line must stay in their rushing lanes to keep Kaepernick in the pocket and force him to take a sack or throw the ball.
Kaepernick is a decent passer, completing 58% of his passes last season. Anquan Boldin was the team's leading receiver last season hauling in 85 passes for 1,179 yards and 7 touchdowns. Michael Crabtree, one of the 49er primary receivers is listed as questionable and will really hurt the 49er passing game if he is unable to play.
Tight end Vernon Davis was the team's second leading receiver with 52 catches for 850 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Free agent signee Henry Melton is expected to have a big season and needs to have a big game on Sunday versus the 49ers. Terrell McClain is listed as questionable, but the Cowboys need for him to play and have a big game. The Cowboys will also be relying heavily on Nick Hayden to either start with Melton or spell both of them. Undrafted rookie free agent Davon Coleman should also be involved in the defensive tackle rotation and needs to play well when in the game. How the defensive line plays will be the deciding factor in who wins the game.
The Dallas Cowboys linebacking corp must have a very good game as well. They will have to work well with the defensive line to slow the San Francisco running gameVernon Davis
down and also help slow down their passing game, as well as chase down Kaepernick when he runs the ball. They will also have the tough task of slowing down Vernon Davis. The starting linebackers have been announced with Rolando McClain in the middle, Bruce Carter at the strong side backer, and Justin Durant at the weak side backer. All 3 of these players must have good games for the Cowboys to have a chance at winning this game.
The Dallas Cowboys secondary will be without probably their best corner back Orlando Scandrick, but they still have some very good defensive backs in Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne that will need to play well to keep Boldin and Crabtree in check. Strong safety Barry Church and free safety J. J. Wilcox will be taxed with slowing down the San Francisco running game and helping slow down tight end Vernon Davis.
Both teams have very good kickers in Dan Bailey for the Cowboys and Phil Dawson for the 49ers. This is as close to a tie as can be. Bailey might get a slight edge, but only very slight.
Both teams also have very good punters as well. Dallas Cowboy punter Chris Jones averages right about 44 yards per punt and the 49ers punter Andy Lee averages about 49 yards per punt.
Dallas Cowboy return man Dwayne Harris is a dynamic kick and punt returner and one of the best in the NFL. The Cowboys clearly have an advantage here.