The San Fransisco 49ers host long-time rivals the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. What should we expect? The Offense and Gabbert to be better? The Defense? On Niners Live will tell you why we think the 49ers have a chance to upset the Cowboys at home, if they take care of business of course.
The Dallas Cowboys are coming to town fresh off two back to back wins against the Chicago Bears and the Washington Redskins who combined, have one in five records.
The Cowboys aren’t juggernauts as the sports world would lead some fans to believe base on their new breed of triplets; featuring quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott, and star wide receiver Dez Bryant who’s been ruled out for the game on Sunday.
No great surprise, but Cowboys WR Dez Bryant is not expected to play Sunday vs 49ers, per source. https://t.co/KvwIcffiy6
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 29, 2016
Prescott has looked great for a rookie no doubt. However, he’s not indestructible as some may think; the Cowboys do a great job at making things easier on their young quarterback by committing to the run and having a great run to pass ratio with their massive/great offensive line–featuring pro bowl tackle Tyron Smith.
Important to note: the Cowboys have attempted 101 rushing attempts over a three-game span while averaging 33.7 attempts a game and 99 passing attempts at 33.0 attempts a game. Prescott averages 251 yards passing a game at 7.75 per pass play and has accounted for one passing touchdown and two rushing TD’s.
Target Count At A Glance:
Prescott’s top pass catchers wide receiver Beasley works the slot, all-pro tight end Witten works the middle of the field and has a knack for getting open on offense:
- Cole Beasley — 25 times
- Dez Bryant — 23 times
- Jason Witten — 20 times
How can the 49ers use this to their benefit?
The 49ers must take away Prescott’s comfort zone, (his security blanket the running game and Ezekiel Elliott who’s averaging 91.3 yards a game at 3.9 yards a carry with two rushing touchdowns. Also, short yardage power back Alfred Morris has two rushing touchdowns on the year.
Make Prescott beat you with his arm and from the pocket, “one-dimensional” throw the young quarterback different looks and stop the run early. A task that team leader all-pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman and fellow teammates Arik Armstead, Deforest Buckner, Quinton Dial, Glenn Dorsey, Mike Purcell, Eric Reid, Antoine Bethea, and Ahmad Brooks should be hopefully up for.
Something defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil promise his unit would do when hired by the 49ers. “Number one stopping the run on early downs.“ Via, the San Francisco 49ers website.
O'Neil: "Let’s make plays, play fearless, that’s what we want." #GoNiners
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) September 27, 2016
Taking a closer look at this Cowboys defense and how the 49ers can potential exploit some matchups and come away with a win on the road.
Important to note: Dallas defense is rank 22nd overall, giving up 20 ppg and 379.3 yards a game with 296.0 coming via passing yards, along with 89.3 on the ground at (opponents 4.8 yards a carry). And only have four sacks and two interceptions on the year. Via, NFL.com.
This unit is a bend but don’t break defense that’s helped by their offenses ability to run and score points. The 49ers have an opportunity to establish the run with featured running back Carlos Hyde and take some heat off the offense and in particular quarterback Blaine Gabbert who’s struggled as of late with accuracy.
For Blaine Gabbert, it's all about sticking to the routine.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) September 29, 2016
What to expect from the offense?
We should expect this unit that’s coming off a miserable performance against the Seahawks to play better at home, including Blaine Gabbert, believe it or not.
If the 49ers can establish the run early against the Cowboys light defensive front line that averages under 300lbs, it will open the door for play action down the field, if the 49ers chose to open it up and take shots of course, with Torrey Smith.
Gabbert and the 49ers are in must-win territory at home after two beat downs against the Panthers and SeaHawks “Pride Check.”
Gabbert should have more opportunities in this game as well as his main targets tight end Vance McDonald and Jeremy Kerley who’s been targeted 23 times most than any other 49er player on offense.
This secondary of Dallas although playing better can be exploited as aforementioned. However, the 49ers coaching staff must have a good game plan and scheme to put players in position to make plays in every facet of the game and players have to execute on all levels.
Recently, we’ve discussed, on Niners Live the issues and concerns with the 49ers defense as a whole; including some potential flaws in 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil’s scheme and playcalling. This unit must come to play if the 49ers are to have a legitimate shot at winning this game.
Kelly: "100% of our focus is on the Dallas game. Our goal is simply to be 1-and-0 on Sunday." #DALvsSF
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) September 29, 2016
Dallas notable defensive players at a glance– linebacker Sean Lee, safety Byron Jones, DT Tyrone Crawford, DE Jack Crawford, DB’s Orlando Scandrick, Morris Claiborne, and Brandon Carr.
Bonus Niner Notes: fans are calling for Gabbert’s head regardless if it’s right, wrong or justified. Gabbert has to play better all around the board in this game and help lead the 49ers to a win at home or Colin Kaepernick could be starting sooner rather than later, potentially.