By Sam McPherson
The bottom fell out of the season for the 2017 San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. The Dallas Cowboys came to town and flattened the 49ers, 40-10, in a game that wasn’t even that close. The defeat drops San Francisco to 0-7 now, matching the Cleveland Browns for the worst record in the NFL this season.
The Cowboys took an early 14-0 lead and never let up as the 49ers fumbled three times on offense while watching Dallas run all over the S.F. defense. Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard was making his first career start for the 49ers, and it really didn’t go very well for him or the team.
Beathard ran for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and he didn’t throw an interception in the game while completing 22 of his 38 attempts for 235 yards. However, he did fumble twice, losing both to the Cowboys. That was just one reason the 49ers held the ball for just 27:10 in this game, once again leaving the defense exposed too much. Beathard also took five sacks for a whopping 48 yards, crippling the offense a few times too many. With a rookie QB under center, the 49ers should have made more of an effort to keep the ball on the ground. Instead, the team’s running backs combined for just 73 yards on 17 carries.
The good news is that Beathard spread the ball around nicely, completing passes to eight different receivers. Also, as noted, he didn’t throw an INT in the game, so there’s potential at the position for head coach Kyle Shanahan to develop. With some more game experience, Beathard will cut down on the sacks and improve his recognition of when to the throw the ball away instead of taking damaging sacks.
After several stout performances in a row, the 49ers defense just disappeared in this game, allowing 501 total yards of offense to Dallas. Over half of that—265 yards, to be exact—came on the ground as RB Ezekiel Elliott ran through the S.F. defenders for 147 yards and two TDs on 26 carries. Even his backups combined for 10 carries and 76 yards, so the 49ers’ front seven really struggled to contain the Cowboys from the start. Elliott also had a 72-yard TD reception, while Dallas QB Dak Prescott threw for three scores and ran for another.
Special Teams: C
Wide receiver Trent Taylor fumbled on a punt return, which really encapsulates the kind of day it was for the 49ers. San Francisco’s kick returner, running back Raheem Mostert, was mediocre on kickoff returns, averaging just 15 yards on four returns. Placekicker Robbie Gould (perfect on kicks) and punter Bradley Pinion (45.0-yard average on four punts) did perform admirably under the circumstances.
The 49ers got worked over in this game, so there must have been a bit of an emotional letdown somewhere in the clubhouse this week. Perhaps it came after watching former linebacker NaVorro Bowman make 11 tackles for the Oakland Raiders on Thursday Night Football at the Coliseum just up the highway. How did San Francisco decide to let that kind of talent walk for nothing in return? It’s as if the whole team had a delayed reaction to Bowman’s release nine days ago, but either way, Shanahan did not have this team ready to play on Sunday, and that’s unforgivable.
Up Next: Philadelphia Eagles
Nothing gets easier for the 49ers as they now must travel across the country to Philadelphia for a Sunday morning matchup next weekend. The Eagles are 5-1 and hosting the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football to close out Week 7. Philly has a 1.5-game lead on the Redskins and a two-game lead on the Cowboys in the NFC East Division. The Eagles have the best record in the conference, while San Francisco has the worst record. Since the game is in Philadelphia, it’s hard to imagine the 49ers getting the W next week.