The Cowboys will be visiting the San Francisco 49er’s on Sunday to play their fourth game of the season. Right now the Cowboys are in a good spot in the division holding a 2-1 record. If you remember the last time Dallas met up with San Francisco it did not go all that well. The Cowboys lost to the 49er’s 28 to 17. That was Dallas’s first regular season game of the 2014 season, as we all know that was one of only three losses they suffered in an impressive 2014 season. It didn’t hurt them all that bad, but man did it look like it was going to be a long season. A lot has changed since the last matchup between these two teams. Tony Romo and Colin Kaepernick were the starting quarterbacks, DeMarco Murray and Frank Gore were the starting running backs, and every single receiver that caught a pass for the 49er’s that game is no longer with the team, this is another game the Cowboys should win.
Dak Prescott has continued to do an excellent job managing football games and putting this team in a position to win. Ezekiel Elliott has improved each week and looks to continue that trend with a career game against an inconsistent San Fran defense. With that being said this 49er’s defense is no slouch and has plenty of playmakers throughout the starting lineup. The Dallas offense will have to continue to run the football and be able to spread the ball around the field to keep the defense honest.
On the offensive side of the ball Dallas could be without their best weapon in Dez Bryant. Jerry Jones said on 105.3 The Fan that “Dez Bryant has yet to have a MRI on his knee to his knowledge and is still being evaluated by the teams medical staff.” He also said that “La’el Collins will miss some time with a sprained big toe, but will hold off on surgery for now.” Those are two key guys that help make this offense tick. Bryant suffered his knee injury on the second play of the game and Collins suffered his toe injury in the first half of the Bears game on Sunday night. Bryant was able to return after missing a few plays but was quiet until catching a touchdown in the third quarter from Dak Prescott. The fact that Bryant returned and played a majority of the game should make you optimistic but for some reason I don’t have a great feeling about it. I hope I’m wrong. Collins played through some of the injury but after halftime the medical staff ruled him out. Ron Leary who everyone and their brother wanted Dallas to trade filled in and did an excellent job. La’el Collins has struggled in the three games he’s played in this season, especially with his run blocking. Leary is getting his wish granted and has every opportunity in front of him to earn his starting role back that Collins snatched from him last season.
La’el isn’t the only offensive lineman who is dealing with an injury. Tyron Smith was inactive on Sunday due to tightness in his back. Smith has been dealing with back spasms since training camp but has been able to fight through them so far. Smith should get back to practicing in a limited fashion this week and start at left tackle on Sunday. His replacement Chaz Green had a better game than a lot of people expected. Green had a tough task in blocking a good defender in Willie Young. Young did not register a sack or have any tackles for loss. One thing that keeps holding back Green is his penalties. He was called for two holds and a chop block in the game. If Green wants to eventually take over and start at right tackle in the near future he must figure his penalty problem out. Orlando Scandrick was also inactive Sunday but his rookie backup Anthony Brown did not miss a beat. Brown gave up one play late in the fourth but that was really the only time I noticed him all night which is a good thing for cornerbacks.
One thing that keeps catching my eye is this defenses ability to make big plays for the team. In week one Brandon Carr had a huge interception on the first drive of the second half that put Dallas right back in the game after being down at halftime. In week two Barry Church picked off Kirk Cousins in the endzone. That interception saved the game for the Cowboys as that score would have made that game a tough one to come back in. Also in week two Tyrone Crawford has a sack on the final drive of the game that wasted a bunch of time for the Redskins and forced them to drive that much further down the field. In week three everyone’s favorite punching bag J.J. Wilcox had a nasty hit on a Chicago receiver that resulted in a fumble recovery by Tyrone Crawford. Later in the game David Irving put heavy pressure on Brian Hoyer that resulted in Hoyer fumbling the football and Benson Mayowa recovering. Is this defense sacking the quarterback eight times a game? No. Is this defense shutting down opposing running backs and wide receivers? Not necessarily. What this defense IS doing is making big plays when they are needed and bending but not breaking. Terrell McClain, Morris Claiborne, Maliek Collins, Byron Jones, and the overall depth of this defense has come up big without having all the stats you’d like but the overall goal each week is to come away with a victory and I think the two this team has right now is because the defense keeps showing up when it has to. Oh and did I mention Demarcus Lawrence returns in just one more week? A player this defense has missed a lot in these first three games and a player that can put pressure on the quarterback.
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