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Game Notes

Knowing the Enemy: 49ers Players Cowboys Defense Must Contain

Brian Martin

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Knowing the Enemy: 49ers Players Cowboys Defense Must Contain

Football is finally back! The Dallas Cowboys will be taking on the San Francisco 49ers tonight in the first of four preseason games. For many it may be a meaningless game, but for the 49ers and Cowboys it's a chance to prepare and evaluate for the upcoming 2018 season.

Since this is just Week 1 of the preseason, don't expect to see any of the starters play much for either team. That means we will see a lot of the players on the bubble receive quite a bit of playing time in this contest. That's okay, because it's the first chance a lot of us will have to see some of these players in action for the first time.

Today, I wanted to do something a little different. Instead of identifying some of the  Dallas Cowboys players to watch tonight, I wanted to flip things around and take a look at a relatively unknown 49ers team. Sometimes, knowing the enemy is the key to success.

Please continue to read below to see a few of the San Francisco 49ers players I believe could possibly cause some problems for the Dallas Cowboys defense. Containing them could be the key to victory.

OT Mike McGlinchey

Mike McGlinchey

San Francisco 49ers OT Mike McGlinchey

The 49er starters likely won't see a lot of playing time, much like Dallas', but rookies are sometimes the exception to the rule. As such, San Francisco may choose to allow McGlinchey to remain in the game after several of their other starters are pulled in order for him to get up to speed as quickly as possible. The more game experience he receives could help him be better prepared for the season.

McGlinchey was one of the top offensive tackles in the 2018 draft class. He may not be on the same level as Tyron Smith or La'el Collins, but he should still challenge the Cowboys pass rushers. If any of Dallas' defensive ends are able to put McGlinchey on his heels and give him trouble, it would go a long way in helping earn a roster spot when cuts are made.

RB Matt Breida

Matt Breida

San Francisco 49ers RB Matt Breida (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Matt Breida was a pleasant surprise for the 49ers last season. The undrafted rookie free agent ended up having a pretty spectacular rookie season, accumulating 645 total yards and amassing an impressive 4.4 yards per attempt, mostly while spelling then starter Carlos Hyde. Despite his success, he could see quite a bit of playing time against the Dallas Cowboys tonight.

The 49ers signed former Minnesota Vikings Running Back, Jerick McKinnon, to a lucrative contract during the offseason, which means he is likely the lead dog in 2018. This means he probably won't see much playing time against the Cowboys, leaving Breida as the workhorse RB tonight. His footwork and ability to cut on a dime should be a challenge for the Cowboys defenders.

WR Dante Pettis

Dante Pettis

San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis (Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

Dante Pettis is someone the Dallas Cowboys showed an interest in during the draft process coming out of Washington this year, but he ended up going to the 49ers in the second round instead. Word is, Pettis has been quite impressive during offseason practices with the 49ers and has made their defensive backs look pretty silly at times. Expect to see him utilized all over the field against the Cowboys.

This could be a pretty good challenge for several of the Dallas Cowboys younger cornerbacks. Pettis has a quick release off the line and has the ability to separate at any level on the field due to his precise route running. He will likely see plenty of single coverage from the Cowboys CBs, causing them to carry him all of the field. This could be a good test for them early on in the process, which could help with evaluations down the road.

RB Joe Williams

Joe Williams

San Francisco 49ers RB Joe Williams

Despite both being rookies last year, Joe Williams was clearly outshined by Matt Breida in 2017. Williams may be the more talented of the two, but ball security issues plagued him a season ago and likely led to his decreased playtime as the season progressed. However, that doesn't take away from what kind off threat he can be on the field.

Williams is a threat to score from anywhere on the field whenever he has the ball in his hands. He possesses game breaking speed, which could put quite a bit of pressure on the Cowboys defenders in both the running and receiving game. Williams could see the most playing time out of all of the 49ers RBs, and containing him could end up being the biggest challenge for Dallas'defense.

WR Richie James

Richie James

San Francisco 49ers WR Richie James (Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

Richie James was actually one of my favorite players to study in the 2018 draft class coming out of Middle Tennessee State. He is an exciting player to evaluate due to his ability to make something happen anytime the ball is in his hands. So, it was no surprise to me to find out he has been pretty impressive so far with the 49ers in training camp.

Being just 5'9", James is primarily going to be a slot receiver with the 49ers. It's a position he should excel at due to his short area quickness and ability to run pro-ready routes. This could be a huge challenge for the Cowboys CBs, especially the ones who aren't used to playing the slot. It wouldn't be all that surprising if he has a big game if not contained.

Will any of these 49ers players give the Dallas Cowboys defense any problems?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Randy Gregory is a Big Time Player

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Randy Gregory, Eagles

It was a dramatic win for the Dallas Cowboys but a win nonetheless. The Philadelphia Eagles gave the Cowboys one hell of a fight at AT&T Stadium in a great rivalry game. It was undoubtedly one of the most exciting games this season has seen as it ended with a walk-off touchdown that gave the home team the victory.

Here is this week's Takeaway Tuesday on what we learned from such a thrilling match!

Amari Cooper Trade Shouldn't Even Be a Discussion

Once a complicated debate, the Amari Cooper trade has a clear winner. It's simple, really. If it wasn't for Amari Cooper, the Cowboys would not be 8-5 en route to the NFC East title. Cooper has literally saved the 2018 season for the once 3-5 Cowboys team.

Since becoming a part of the Cowboys, the former Oakland Raider has accounted for 40 catches, 642 yards and six touchdowns. Last Sunday alone, he was responsible for 217 yards and three scores. Not to mention the amount of times he's moved the chains for this offense. The 24-year old can seriously play football. Despite struggles, this offense is very promising with that caliber of a WR1 and an elite RB such as Ezekiel Elliott.

What was it again? A first rounder? Should've asked for more, Raiders.

Randy Gregory is a Big Time Player

Gregory's journey to be back on a football field was a difficult one. But it was worth it. Versus the Eagles, his presence was constantly felt by Carson Wentz. He was able to get in five pressures, one of which resulted in a sack.

The last couple of games, Gregory has drawn a few costly flags, but his play is still amazing. He's one of the fastest defensive ends in the league and he continues to improve in bending around the corner. He has five sacks in the last eight games. If you weren't convinced #94 should be our starting right defensive end, you should be by now.

Dalton Schultz

Tight Ends Rise

The lack of a tight end did not stand out this past Sunday. But Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin did. With Geoff Swaim out with an injury, this couple of young rotational players had their best games of their careers. Both were targeted in key moments of the game. Blake Jarwin had 56 yards in seven catches and a big third down conversion and Dalton Schultz finished the night with 37 yards.

A promising sign for the Cowboys moving forward. The offense is clicking at wide receiver with Amari Cooper, having a tight end (or a couple) stand up will only make this unit better.

Report: Jason Garrett "Not Going Anywhere" with Possible Extension Coming Soon

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, HC Jason Garrett

Garrett Deserves a Round of Applause

Whether or not you think Jason Garrett is a good head coach, the guy deserves an applause. I get why you might not like him. In fact, I still question if he should be in Dallas in 2019 if the Cowboys fail to have success in the playoffs. But the way this team has come back from such a terrible start can't be ignored.

The players on this team fight for this guy. The Dallas Cowboys went from a team everyone had written off from playoff contention to legit Super Bowl contenders since they fired Paul Alexander and got Amari Cooper.

Dak Prescott is One of the Best Facing Adversity

Dak Prescott's career continues to cause a great debate among Cowboys' fans. You see, in the NFL, things are not white or black. When judging a player, there are a lot of gray areas. Take last night's performance from Dak Prescott. He threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball once and pretty much played bad football for three quarters. But his night ended with 455 yards and three touchdowns and a 78% completion percentage in 54 attempts.

In the NFL, not any quarterback comes back from turning the ball three times. With the help of his tremendous defense, Dak did. In the fourth quarter, he completed 17 out of 20 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns. His performance was clutch.

This isn't a one thing either. Since 2016, Dak is tied for the most game-winning drives in the NFL. Prescott might be inconsistent and can have some pretty bad plays. But he's one resilient quarterback. As T.O. would've said: "that's my quarterback."

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Randy Gregory is a Big Time Player" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Game Notes

In Swaim’s Absence And Among Witten Rumors, Jarwin And Schultz Shine

Kevin Brady

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In Swaim's Absence And Among Witten Rumors, Jarwin And Schultz Shine

"Starting tight end for the Dallas Cowboys" has been about as stable a position as there is in sports over the last decade. It's been Jason Witten. End of story.

Beginning in 2018, however, that stability went out the window with Witten's retirement. The starting role was left in the hands of Geoff Swaim, with even younger and more inexperienced players filling out the depth chart behind him. There was clearly reason for concern, and once Swaim went down during the Cowboys' win in Atlanta, those concerns only grew.

Swaim's absence has brought with it rumors of a Jason Witten return, with reports last weekend even suggesting that Jason Garrett reached out to Witten to see if he's looking to end his retirement and rejoin the Cowboys.

His absence has also brought about the emergence of two young tight ends, however, who are each succeeding in their own ways and showcasing why the Cowboys felt confident in allowing them to take the bulk of the tight end snaps while Swaim is injured. Those tight ends, of course, are Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz.

Last Sunday during the Cowboys big overtime victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, both Jarwin and Schultz had impressive days. Blake Jarwin has become one of the go-to third down options for quarterback Dak Prescott, extending drives and getting open over the middle of the field. Jarwin had a career best 7 catches for 56 yards on Sunday, including a spectacular third down grab to make up for Prescott's poor ball placement on his crossing route.

Blake Jarwin looks like the big, athletic, middle of the field threat that many fans wished Rico Gathers could be. The next step in unlocking his potential would be to get him more involved in the red zone. Dallas is struggling to convert and-goal situations into touchdowns, and logic would say a big target like Jarwin should be able to help in those moments.

Fourth round rookie Dalton Schultz had a good day as well, catching 3 balls for 37 yards including a 16 yard reception down the seam. Where Schultz really shines, however, is with his run blocking, as he did at Stanford. The move to more of a zone blocking scheme has benefited Schultz as a run blocker, just as it has the entire Cowboys rushing offense.

Schultz looks to be improving as a pass catcher by the week, and a year in a professional offseason program should do him wonders in terms of play strength, in turn helping him as a run blocker. He may not ever turn into a top 5 or 10 tight end in football the way Witten once was, but he is clearly already a functional and valuable player on this roster.

The Cowboys are insanely young throughout most of their roster, and tight end is one of those young spots. Tight end is also a spot you typically don't want (or need) to address within the first round of the NFL Draft. Dallas is secretly in a good spot moving forward at tight end, with Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz emerging as solid players.

This doesn't mean the Cowboys shouldn't look around in the offseason to see what's available, but they should also feel comfortable with what's on their roster at the moment.



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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Resilient Prescott Inches Cowboys Closer to NFC East Title

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Resilient Prescott Inches Cowboys Closer to NFC East Title
(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

If an overtime win over the defending Super Bowl champions that ends their dreams of repeating while increasing your own playoff odds can be both ugly and beautiful, then the Dallas Cowboys 29-23 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles was certainly that - and a whole lot more.

Extending their winning streak to five didn't come without the Cowboys toying with a total collapse, as Quarterback Dak Prescott turned the ball over three times. Fresh off a win against the New Orleans Saints where the Cowboys managed just 13 points, the Eagles pushed this defense to the edge thanks to continued struggles on offense.

In overtime, Prescott made sure Carson Wentz and the Eagles would never see the ball, putting four indescribable quarters behind him to lead a game-winning touchdown drive. The Cowboys are a win away from claiming the NFC East. The full scope of how this season has turned on its head goes well beyond this most recent Cowboys win, at least back to their first win at the Eagles five weeks ago.

For now, my first attempt at sorting out what we saw at AT&T Stadium on Sunday will have to do, with another post game edition of Sean's Scout.

  • With both Tight Ends Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz setting new career highs in receptions, I was waiting for the Cowboys patience on offense to pay off with a big play on the outside, finally provided twice by Wide Receiver Amari Cooper.

In the Cowboys previous win over the Eagles, their receivers had their way with a depleted Philadelphia secondary. Dealing with injuries at cornerback mid-game that are still effecting this group, the Eagles were in no position to line up against Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Cole Beasley.

The counter for the Cowboys offense this week was to use heavier formations, pound Ezekiel Elliott, and get their tight ends involved more than they've been all season. Perhaps the only normal thing to come out of this game was Elliott's 40 touches.

Despite it being a career high, there's no reason Elliott shouldn't be this involved in the Cowboys offense. The Cowboys patience with Elliott was eventually rewarded when Cooper scored from 28 yards out to break a 6-6 tie, and again from 75 yards to put Dallas ahead 23-16 in the fourth quarter.

If not for a few missed shots to Michael Gallup and a missed Brett Maher field goal, the Cowboys efforts on offense could have kept this game out of overtime, though their execution on the winning drive is hard to dispute.

  • The Cowboys are last in the league at scoring touchdowns in the red zone over their last three wins, something that has to change quickly in preparation for the playoffs. 

The Cowboys were 3 of 5 in the red zone in the win that started this streak in Philly, and 2 of 3 the following week at the Falcons. Their decline on offense has been a recent trend that must come back up over the last three weeks of the regular season.

Only six of Elliott's 40 touches came in the red zone, which feels inexcusable from Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan, considering also it was an adjusted play call by Cooper and Prescott that created their long touchdown to force overtime.

Perhaps the trust the Cowboys showed in Schultz and Jarwin will lead to more red zone opportunities for tight ends, of which the Cowboys have no true middle-of-field threat.

  • There is no reason for Prescott to be falling away on his first interception in the end zone, targeting an open Cooper to the back corner. 

Prescott never saw Rasul Douglas break off his man and end up under a throw to Cooper that was placed in a horrible spot. Cooper was open, but thrown into coverage on a ball he never really came close to.

After another look at the play, it's even more disturbing to see Prescott's mechanics. Sliding in a clean pocket, Prescott was falling away slightly when he released the ball. The Cowboys defense would bail out Prescott after probably his most egregious turnover, forcing a three and out.

This was not the case after Prescott's second interception that turned into the Eagles first touchdown, or fumble that lead to a tying field goal.

  • For as good a pass rushing duo as DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are, Defensive Tackles Maliek Collins and Tyrone Crawford don't get enough credit for their all-around game. 

Before kickoff, I wrote about the Cowboys not needing David Irving, who missed his sixth straight game. This is a compliment to not only Collins and Crawford, but Antwaun Woods as well. All three played their part in keeping the Eagles offense in check once again.

Crawford may be playing the best football of his seven-year career. No longer struggling to fit in as either a defensive end or tackle, Crawford is simply a leader by example for the Cowboys defense wherever he lines up.

Carson Wentz is a quarterback you have to make reset his feet defensively, and Crawford was able to force this a number of times. His speed rush ability paired with the power of Collins and Woods on the inside is incredibly disruptive for Dallas.

Following Maher's missed field goal, Crawford turned in one of the hustle plays of the season for the Cowboys to strip Wentz. Beating the left guard off the snap, Crawford dipped Jason Peters at left tackle on his way to a forced fumble that produced another field goal before the half.

This game was that close to having a first half all about the Cowboys taking advantage of Eagles mistakes, instead leaving points on the field and letting the Eagles punish second half mistakes on the way to overtime.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

With a win at the Colts, vs. the Buccaneers, or at the Giants the Cowboys will have gone from 3-5 to NFC East champions for 2018. The merits of just how good this division is will be worth discussing prior to the playoffs, but with two wins over the Eagles and one over the Redskins within an ongoing five game win streak, the Cowboys are objectively one of the hottest teams in the league right now.

Amari Cooper has probably made six or seven plays "better" than his miraculous overtime touchdown, proving his worth more and more each week, though his winning score will surely be a lasting moment from the Cowboys week 14 win.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Resilient Prescott Inches Cowboys Closer to NFC East Title" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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