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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.

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Game Notes

Could OC Kellen Moore Be More “Vanilla” Against Dolphins This Week?

Kevin Brady

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Kellen Moore, Jason Garrett, Dak Prescott

The Cowboys are sort of in a no-win situation this Sunday.

If they come out and dominate the openly tanking Miami Dolphins, they'll have done exactly what they should do. But, if they lose to this putrid roster or lose one of their key players to injury, then this week three game would be considered a disaster.

So how should the Cowboys approach the Miami Dolphins?

Something tells me that new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore may look more "basic" than usual this week. Heralded for his creativity over the first two games, Moore may not want to show too much against the lowly Dolphins. Especially if the Cowboys can simply impose their will, a la the 2016 offensive gameplan.

Running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard should expect a lot of inside and outside zone opportunities this week, with each having a chance to have their best individual performances of the season. Tight end Blake Jarwin and wide receiver Devin Smith could see a lot of opportunities through the air as well, as the Cowboys may want to avoid putting Amari Cooper in situations which could cause injury.


Kellen Moore may want to come out firing with Dak Prescott and this dynamic passing game at first to get a quick lead, and then look to shorten the game as much as possible with his running game.

Honestly, as much as Cowboys Nation may not like it, I wouldn't be shocked if Miami covered this lofty 23 point spread. Dallas could look to get up a couple touchdowns, then proceed to sit on the ball and just look to get out of the stadium alive. Especially considering that the schedule gets much more difficult in the weeks following this Miami game.

With key NFC matchups against the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, and Philadelphia Eagles looming large, health is the most important factor this week against the Dolphins.

Well, health and winning, of course.


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Game Notes

#DALvsMIA: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction

Kevin Brady

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#DALvsMIA: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas and Miami could not be in more different modes heading into this week's game.

At 2-0 the Cowboys are looking to take the next step and earn themselves a Super Bowl ring. At a historically bad 0-2, the Dolphins are looking to go 0-16 and get a shot at drafting the top quarterback in next year's draft.

Vegas has this game at a ridiculous 21 point spread, which should rightfully scare gamblers away. But, both the Ravens and Patriots have beaten the brakes off Miami already this year, and Dallas seems primed to do so as well.

The Line

Cowboys -21. O/U 47.5 Points

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are off to their best start since 2015, and they certainly expect their next 14 games to go much better than they did during that 2015 season. Dallas' offense is as dynamic as any in the league through two weeks, and quarterback Dak Prescott is playing like a legit MVP candidate.

Defensively, the Cowboys have been a bit disappointing thus far, but they have to be feeling like Sunday is the perfect opportunity for a "get right game." Defensive end Robert Quinn returns from suspension to take on his former team, and DeMarcus Lawrence looks to be getting his legs under him after missing all of training camp.

Prescott's favorite target during the opening victories, Michael Gallup, is set to miss this game with an injury, but I don't expect it to matter much against the Dolphins.


Miami Dolphins

Where to even begin with the Miami Dolphins.

After trading for former first round pick Josh Rosen this offseason, the Dolphins decided to start journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Then they traded their own former first round left tackle Laremy Tunsil for a slew of high draft picks. Then, most recently, they traded another former first rounder in Minkah Fitzpatrick for even more picks.

Miami is doing everything they can do to hoard draft picks, ensuring they'll have their pick of the top quarterbacks over the next two draft classes. In the end, this tanking strategy could very well work for the Dolphins, but in 2019 they are going to look really bad.

They've been dominated and embarrassed both weeks thus far, and most expect that embarrassment to continue Sunday against the Cowboys. Operation Fish Tank is in full effect.

Trends

  • The Dolphins are 0-5 against the spread their last 5 games.
  • The score total has gone over in 4 of Miami's last 6 games.
  • The Cowboys are 6-0 outright their last 6 home games.
  • The score total has gone over in each of the Cowboys' last 5 games.

The Pick

If it were to happen, this would be one of the worst losses I could ever remember in Cowboys history. Luckily, I highly doubt the Cowboys don't take care of business on Sunday.

Miami is downright trying to lose football games, and it's hard to imagine this group coming into Dallas and beating such a talented bunch. I'll take the Cowboys big, but I don't have the guts to bet any team -21 in the NFL.


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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Zeke Had The Exact Kind of Game Cowboys Need

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Ezekiel Elliott Should be rid of all Rust

It's pretty difficult to deal with the hype of being 2-0 to open a 2019 NFL season. The Dallas Cowboys have done just that with a revamped offense and a quarterback that's thrown seven touchdowns in the process. They currently sit alone atop of the NFC East and although it's too early to know what kind of team this will be when it's all said alone, we're excited.

Let's dive into this week's takeaways!

We Need Robert Quinn Back

The Dallas Cowboys defense hasn't been as bad as many would think. They've had a few bad moments but the talent is still there and should be improving as the season goes on. Last Sunday, what was most frustrating to me was the lack of a pass rush. DeMarcus Lawrence had a pretty good game, even though his stat line doesn't look very pretty. The pressure was there constantly and he forced a handful of bad plays from Case Keenum. Tyrone Crawford managed to sack him once.

Breaking News: Robert Quinn Suffers Fractured Hand

Other than that, for most of the game the pressure was scarce. Fortunately, the Cowboys are getting Robert Quinn back from suspension this week. Having two quality edge rushers will boost a defense that has the potential to be great, but has only been "good" two weeks into the season.

Ezekiel Elliott Had The Kind of Game The Cowboys Need

Zeke was back for a heavier workload in week 2 after having a snap count in the season opener. It may have not felt like it, but the Cowboys' star running back had a pretty good game versus the Redskins. On 23 carries he had 111 yards and a touchdown, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

In contrast of recent years, Elliott had a great game without the team heavily leaning on the running game. Dak Prescott threw the ball 30 times and Zeke still had a great game. This is what Cowboys Nation should want out of Kellen Moore's offense.


Elliott has two rushing touchdowns in the season, compared to six in all of last year. This is a product of an offense that's now dangerous in many ways, specially in the red zone. You gotta love what Moore is accomplishing so far.

Slow Starts Can't Continue to Happen

The biggest issue with the Cowboys in the first two weeks of the season has been their slow openings. In both games they've started trailing early. The worst thing about it is that it's been due to giving up big plays (like Saquon Barkley's big run in week 1) and quick, unsuccessful drives on offense (like a three-and-out drive followed by a drive that ended in an interception last Sunday).

Fortunately for the Cowboys, the Giants and Redskins didn't pose much of a problem. But when we reach the tougher stretches of the schedule, we know how quickly a game can turn south. Not every rival will be as unforgiving as the 0-2 foes they've faced so far.

DAL 31, WAS 21: Dak Prescott Dominant In Comfortable Win 1

Dak Prescott Continues to Prove He's It

Last but not least, we'll talk about Dak Prescott. Once again, he looked great. He finished the day with 269 yards, three touchdowns and an interception that came on a tipped ball from Randall Cobb's hand. He threw an absolute dime to WR Devin Smith, giving him his ninth 50+ yard touchdown pass of his career (ranking third in the NFL since 2016 behind Tom Brady and Philip Rivers).

All game long, he was precise against Washington's defense. He dealt three touchdowns to three different players and was making throws with anticipation and poise. If you're not sold on Dak Prescott yet, I don't know if you'll ever be.

He also looked well as a runner, specially on that 42-yard run where he stiffed arm Josh Norman. I hope the Cowboys continue to use him in the running game.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Zeke Had The Exact Kind of Game Cowboys Need" 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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