Tale Of The Tape: San Francisco 49ers At Dallas Cowboys
- QuarterbackThe 49ers begin the season with Super Bowl aspirations and the hope that they can run down the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West. If that’s going to happen, it is incumbent on Colin Kaepernick and the offense to get off to a sizzling start because the Niners defense is not at its best right now. Kaepernick has superior athletic ability, and needs to show that he can be consistently accurate with his passes.The Cowboys are also hopeful that their offense can carry them a long way, because their defense appears subpar as the season begins. Tony Romo is capable of going on a hot streak and carrying the offense because he throws perhaps the most catchable pass in the league. Despite his talent, Romo has never shaken the tendency to throw big interceptions when the game is on the line.
- OffenseThe Niners are capable of airing the ball out and hitting the big play on occasion, but head coach Jim Harbaugh is not interested in having his team put on an air show. Frank Gore is one of the hardest working running backs in the NFL, and he will get help from rookie Carlos Hyde. Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis form a solid core of receivers.The Cowboys have a lot of top-notch weapons on offense, and wide receiver Dez Bryant may be the best of the bunch. Bryant is not afraid to show his emotions, but he has worked hard to improve every year. Running back DeMarco Murray rushed for 1,121 yards last year, and he should be able to exceed that total this year. Jason Witten remains one of the top receiving tight ends in the league.
- DefenseThe 49ers may eventually get to a position where their defense can dominate again, but it won’t be early in the year. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman is still recovering from the knee injury suffered in the NFC Championship game, while pass rusher Aldon Smith has been suspended for the first nine games of the season. MLB Patrick Willis needs to find a way to hold this unit together.The Cowboys ranked 27th on defense last year, and it may be a struggle for them to hold on to that level this year. Former star DeMarcus Ware signed with the Broncos, while MLB Sean Lee suffered a season-ending injury in the offseason. Strong safety Barry Church returns after recording 138 tackles last season, and he is going to have to show that he can become a leader for this group.
- Special TeamsThe 49ers made a major upgrade on special teams last year when they added Phil Dawson as their placekicker. While he got off to a slow start, Dawson made 32-of-36 FG attempts last year. Andy Lee averaged 48.2 yards per punt last year and dropped 27 of his kicks inside the 20.The Cowboys are confident that placekicker Dan Bailey can repeat the success he had a year ago when he connected on 28-of-30 FG attempts. Chris Jones has a decent leg and averaged 45.0 yards per punt. He also placed 30 of his punts inside the 20.
The 49ers have plenty of issues as the season begins and they are not at their best. However, they are a much tougher team than the Cowboys and should find a way to pull out the victory on the road. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports