49ers 28, Cowboys 17: Grades

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys handed the 49ers a 28-17 win Sunday evening. Here are the 49ers’ grades.

KAEPERNICK: A. Efficient. Completed 70 percent of his passes, averaged 8.7 yards per pass attempt, threw two touchdown passes and zero interceptions and converted 7-of-12 third downs. He found his receivers when they were wide open and he made some terrific throws while taking big hits.

RUNNING BACKS: B. LaMichael James was awful. Frank Gore looked terrific on his first run, bursting through the line for a 20-yard gain. He looked sluggish after that, gaining only 46 yards on 15 carries – 3.1 yards per attempt. A bad Cowboys’ front-seven mostly shut him down, although he didn’t get much help from his blockers. Carlos Hyde didn’t get much blocking help, either, but he gained 50 yards on 7 carries – 7.1 yards per attempt. Hyde was powerful, quick, explosive, and he had great vision, quickly spotting cutback lanes. He had some of his biggest gainers when he was paired up with Kaepernick in the zone read scheme. The opposing defensive end had to sit there and honor Kaepernick as a potential keeper on the option. Hyde was able to bend back the cut into a void because if the DE squeezed the hole, he would have allowed Kaepernick to potentially run around the end. Hyde may be the most talented Big 10 running back since Eddie George. Hyde clearly is the best running back on the 49ers right now. He should become the starter sooner rather than later.

WIDE RECEIVERS: A. The Cowboys kept letting Boldin run free and he killed them, catching eight passes on nine targets for 99 yards. It was like the Cowboys gave the 49ers a free 10 yards any time Kaepernick threw to Boldin. The Cowboys didn’t do much better covering the other receivers. Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson each caught two passes.

TIGHT ENDS: A. Vernon Davis caught two touchdown passes and put the game away early. He also dropped a pass, which knocks his grade down from an A+ to a measly A.

OFFENSIVE LINE: B-. Gave up too much pressure and didn’t generate much push against a bad defensive line. Mike Iupati gave up a sack. Joe Staley and Joe Looney were flagged for holding. Daniel Kilgore committed a hold too but the refs didn’t see it. Alex Boone and Anthony Davis didn’t play.

DEFENSIVE LINE: B-. Gave up 5.5 yards per carry. DeMarco Murray consistently got to the “second level” of the 49ers’ defense, past the D-line. When it came to rushing the passer, Justin Smith was the only D-linemen who generated any pressure. He sacked Tony Romo twice – once when Smith was unblocked, and once when Smith looped around on a stunt.

LINEBACKERS: B. These guys were complicit in the 49ers’ poor run defense. But they played well against the pass. Patrick Willis made a nice interception in the end zone.Jason Witten caught just two passes for 14 yards. And Ahmad Brooks sacked Romo twice. Brooks also committed three penalties and missed a tackle. Corey Lemonier was ineffective as a pass rusher. Aaron Lynch was better. He knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage.

SECONDARY: A-. They gave up completions on 62 percent of Romo’s passes and allowed 7.6 yards per pass attempt. But the starting cornerbacks, Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver, left the game in the first quarter with injuries – Brock hurt his toe and Culliver sustained a concussion. Before Culliver got hurt, he recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown on the third play of the game. The backups – Perrish Cox and Dontae Johnson – played well for the most part. Cox made a beautiful interception on a deep pass, and Dontae Johnson broke up two passes, a team high. Johnson might just Wally-Pipp Culliver. Eric Reid also intercepted a pass, and Antoine Bethea broke up one in the end zone.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-. Phil Dawson missed a gimme 37-yard field goal attempt, and the kickoff coverage team allowed 29 yards per kickoff return. Andy Lee was good, though. He pinned the Cowboys inside their 15-yard line three times.

COACHING: A. The coaches didn’t have to do much, didn’t have to outsmart the Cowboys. All they had to do was sit back and let the Cowboys beat themselves. The read-option portion of the offensive game plan didn’t work for Kaepernick — he gained just 11 yards on 5 carries. Oh well. Every time Kaepernick dropped back it seemed like there was a 49er receiver completely uncovered. Good play design by the 49ers, awful coverage by the Cowboys. And when the 49ers had a big lead, the coaches closed out the game well, calling run after run after run. The 49ers would have won by more than two touchdowns if not for some ticky-tack penalty calls on the 49ers’ defense in the second half.

This article has 223 Comments

  1. IT WAS wierd our defense was almost unrecognizable and we still whooped the boys…Id be willing to bet there .as more Niner fans in that stadium than Cowgirls fans….wow…good game

  2. Very impressed today with Dontae Johnson as well as Eric Reid. Both guys look fast, physical and poised in the secondary.

        1. I know he fractured his foot- but they could have left him on the roster and had him after a couple months. They decided to put him on IR instead and it killed his whole season (which is better than losing him ala cooper last year, but still)

  3. Looked like our second string defense was out there…whqt happened to I Williams ? Lynch looked prstty good had a pass deflected..

  4. “4:14 It’s clear that Hyde is the best running back on the team right now. He’s been terrific today.”

    Hey, remember when Hyde was drafted? You said that Hyde wouldn’t be good because Beanie Wells — a completely different person that wasn’t Carlos Hyde or related to Carlos Hyde and was only mentioned because he also happened to have played for Ohio State — wasn’t good? Man, that was really ignorant. Just so, so ignorant.

  5. It is difficult to grade Niners in this game since not sure if it is more about Cowboys problems or more about the Niner strengths. So I will take these grades that are more reflective of the latter and figure out the rest as season progresses.

  6. Hard to nitpick when the team put the game away in the first half, but I think you’ve been almost too generous with the grades for the DL and OL. Maybe J. Smith’s sacks can be considered enough to lift it to the B- you give. But overall they got pushed around for the most part, and didn’t generate much pressure. And the OL gave up far too much pressure against a pretty ordinary Cowboys D, and let the RB get hit in the backfield or at the LOS too often.

    1. It sounds like it pains him to give some of those grades. Our offense and defense capitalized on their mistakes. Plus our offense scored touchdowns in the redzone. I agree with the OL & DL. But it seemed like the defense was playing a prevention strategy. Trying to prevent the big play.

    2. I agree, Scooter. The good news is that our OL and DL will be better when fully healthy. But I’m really impressed of the secondary, without any pass-rush from our DL, they limited that high-power offense and took care of business when the opportunity presented itself. And of top of that, they were playing the back-ups most of the game. Really impressed…

      1. I agree ricardo, the secondary was very good today. The only big play they gave up was just a lucky heave by Romo. Cox actually had pretty good position but jumped too early. Could have had his second pick. There were a couple of opportunities the Cowboys missed where receivers got open but Romo didn’t go to them, but overall the play of the secondary was impressive. Reid and Bethea looked a very good safety combo.

  7. Grant,
    Good grades.
    But in saying that Hyde could become the starter sooner than later, you could have at least mentioned Frank Gore achieving the 10,000 yrd plateau in his career. C’mon Grant, a good reporter should not miss an opportunity to recognize this.

    1. “good reporter” – well now you know why it was not reported – a few weeks back the Press Democrat billed the blogger a the “teller of football stories”

  8. “Hyde may be the most talented Big 10 running back since Eddie George”

    I think he’s better. Just as powerful but quicker to the hole. Has better agility as well.

  9. Likes:

    Niners won.
    Niners used 3 wr formations frequently.
    Brandon Lloyd was target 2x. Hopefully they will throw him some deep passes.
    Boldin is automatic.
    Reid is a good safety. Cox and DJ played well
    Good on 3rd down and red zone conversions. Kap had a great day.

    Dislikes:
    We got hosed on those two defensive barely scraping the receiver calls. WTF.
    DLine got pushed around.
    Barely any pressure on romo.
    LMJ is being misused.

    General observations:
    What happened to vance mac?
    Stevie Johnson was targets 2x and made 2 catches.

      1. I desperately want to believe that Harbaugh is hiding Ellington for the playoffs, but I’ve fallen for that trap for the last 3 years.

        Harbaugh needs to get even more aggressive, and employ Ellington a la Cooks, Harvin, Cordarelle, etc…

        “Stay on the gas — we’ve got to keep on that gas. If we score, we keep scoring. We score until we can’t score no more. That’s where I come from. I mean, that’s football. I don’t know nothing else.”
        – Michael Crabtree

        If Harbaugh is losing the locker room at all, it is because the team has played too conservatively given its offensive wherewithal over the last two postseasons.

        1. Bang on, E. Keep on the gas is what I said at half time and it looked like they coasted, although the refs did their part in keeping the game interesting.

      2. James just isn’t that good. This is a guy with 4.4 speed who appears unable to display it in a game. On kickoff returns he looks slower than Ellington. Hyde bursts through the hole at 100mph, James doesn’t; he looks tentative.

  10. The A grade for the coaching makes sense though your reasoning does not seem to support it. And there in lies my disagreement. I suggest rather that the Niner coaches did in deed do a lot to outsmart the Cowboys and succeeded in that endeavor.
    Vic Fangio in particular put together a masterful defensive plan – in my opinion. What I saw was a defense set up to protect its perceived weaknesses, go after the Cowboy offensive strengths (at least from last year) and gamble on Niner offense capitalizing on a potentially weak Cowboy defense. The defense was set up to almost one dimensionally focus mostly on the passing game baiting the Cowboys to run into the jaws of a still effective tackling linebacker group and safety group. Even when the Cowboys were putting down running yards, the Niners were not tempted away from there pass protect scheme. An empty box and a flooded backfield resulted in coverage sacks, turnovers and a struggling QB.

    I was even impressed with Roman’s offensive plan. Starting the game out with an uncharacteristic passing attack that did seem to catch the Cowboy D off guard. And then when the score was high enough to help the pass protect defense and after establishing respect for the passing game — to then hammer the Cowboys with the characteristic Niner down field ground game.

  11. Nice win today. Hyde looked great, the secondary did a fine job. Kaep really looked at the entire field and pass to the open man. Even Roman called a good game.

  12. Return of the read option and pistol RO? From what I saw Carlos Hyde may actually help put renewed life back into the read option making Kapernick very happy and opposing defenses not. He seems to be more comfortable and a better fit in the read option than Gore. This is how they scored inside the red zone. They made something that was quite rare last year look quite easy.
    This may bring back the three headed monster that drives outside line backers crazy. Is it going to be a hand for a down field run or a QB hold to pass or to run. That is the line backers question when confronted with the three headed beast.
    If CH has both the comfort and the burst (as it appears he does) to make the read option work for CK then watch out defenses. Furthermore, if Carlos Hyde is comfortable with the blind read (Gore was apparently not), look for a return of the pistol formation with read option and Hyde as the back. Look for more of this to come particularly in the red zone.

      1. I still maintain that Roman hurts us, as much as helps us. Why do you start calling option plays and put your star QB at risk unnecessarily. We were moving the ball you consistently with simple runs and Kaep dropping back and hitting underneath routes.Then all of the sudden, we bring in James and start doing these ridiculous plays that go nowhere and instead of 1st and 10, it is 3rd and 10. It makes no sense to me. He out thinks himself for some reason. Like he doesn’t see what’s really working and stick to it. That is where Darrell Bevell is superior (hate to admit it), when he gets creative, it is still within the context of what they are doing. With us, it seems completely foreign to what we are doing in the game and throws us out of sync. Just surprised Harbaugh does not see that.

  13. Grant’s grades seem to be given on a curve. He expected much less today, and by way of the lopsided result, he graded easily. He didn’t give grades this favorable once all of last year. He must have thought more of last year’s team than this team.

  14. Game grades are difficult to assign in this type of game because the Cowboys put themselves in a deep hole from which they never could recover in the first Q when they were behind 21-3 and the Niners had run only 4 offensive plays. The Niners also lost two starting DBs early in the game, so reserves had to play extensive minutes and in usual circumstances would not have been on the field for that length of time. Conversely, the Cowboys did enjoy some good run game success despite the fact that they were in the hole on the scoreboard. IOn sum, the jury still is out, and let’s see what happens when the Bears, with their injuries, etc. come town next Sunday night.

    1. Jimmy Johnson said it perfectly after the game, he still doesn’t really know anything about these teams. Obviously, the Niners are good, but how good remains the question. I am not even sure we will know by playing the Bears. The Bears are a pretender. They are the same team as last year. Do I think, had the 49ers played the Seachickens in Seattle, we would have fared well at all? No. Not ready for that challenge with current undermanned defense. However, if we can come out of the first 8 games 6-2, we will be a monster in November/December.

  15. as P. Willis said, there was much to be disappointed with in this game, but thankfully Dallas self-destructed. but i never look a road win in the mouth, and we have some time to heal and gel for the big challenges later in the season. this team has a long way to go to be competitive with seattle.

  16. Overall very fair grades. I would lower the O line and D line grades to C’s. The O-line definitely needs Davis and Boone in there. I dont feel Looney or Martin played poorly but Boone and Davis are beasts in the run game. And i would change the linebacker grade (to those not named Willis) to a D. Wilhote and Brooks were not good in any way. I was very pleased with the secondary. They shut down one of the best WRs in the game. And despite losing the top 2 corners early they kept a good passing attack in check until garbage time.
    Offensive wise its hard to analyze this game. I feel like the passing game looked really good, but the cowboys D sucksssssss. Kap had a very solid outing. I didnt see many (if any) mistakes from him. I would have liked to see Crab more involved with the pass attack but it was 21-3 in the blink of an eye and from there on out the offense reverted to classic Roman, When ahead run, run, run/pass, punt

  17. More and more it is looking like Trent Baalke killed the 2014 draft. Carlos Hyde was a stroke of genius. Ellington is already a valued special teams player. Jimmie Ward and Boreland are coming along. Dontae Johnson was a steel. Aaron Lynch may even be a bigger steel. And more to come….

      1. That fat boy (a.k.a Damon Bruce) says a lot of things, but he was right about Hyde. Let’s see his ‘midwest manners’ when the 49ers smack the Bears next week :)

  18. Here is what really kills me. Dontae Johnson appears to be playing better right now than Justin Gilbert in Cleveland. Going into the draft Gilbert was my favorite CB. After the Niners picked some guy by the name of Dontae Johnson I though he had bust written all over him. Shows how much I know.

    1. It’s too early to say he’s a player, but he had the measurables, intelligence, self-confidence, and work ethic, and had demonstrated competence in a major conference. Add good coaching, conditioning, and scheme, and you would expect him to be able to compete. I’m excited about him and about Acker too.

  19. Coaches don’t get an A in my book. I personally wanted to see this team put their foot on the cowboys throat and I wanted to see the second unit in. And that could have happened EASILY!!!! I don’t think Harbaugh has the killer instinct to put teams away early. Especially a team he let off the hook in his second game as our coach. Very disappointed in harbaugh and the refs. Ridiculous calls to keep the big affernoon game as close as they could keep it.

    1. Lots of comments in the crowd about Harbaugh throwing the ball when up 4 scores. Not running it and milking clock. Easily 40% Niner fans at game yesterday.

      1. Yeah and how much were they up in the 4th? Naaa we haven’t seen this team with a lead and blow it just to go to overtime or pull a last second win out. Don’t be a clown Jack. With the refs giving te cowboys a TD drive anything could have happened. I’ve seen the prevent offense one to many times.

        1. The Niners really didn’t shut it down though. They got called for two holding calls on their first possession that forced a punt, and lost a huge gain to Davis on the brutal PI called on Lloyd. Most teams are going to go conservative in the 4th quarter with a big lead and the Niners are no different, but I didn’t see a concerted effort to shut down the offense in the second until into the 4th.

          1. My original point wasn’t blowing leads, it’s that I stated I “personally” wanted to see them put their foot on their throats and throttle a team just so I can see that harbaugh has it in him. So it doesn’t matter how many points they’re up, 20 or 14 I’ve seen him sit on leads and blow them. With the way Dallas was moving the ball on the defense AND having two starters go down, I “personally” didn’t want to see running on first and second downs. I was hoping they would continue eating up their secondary with the pass. The offense worked with turnovers on short field positions. It’s not like they were getting punts and driving for long TD’s. So yeah I would have liked to see them stick to what was working a little more and getting the starters off the field for the rest of the game for once.

            1. Why with a lead like they had should they put up more film for teams to look at and prepare for? Why extend a game further and increase the chance of injuries by stopping the clock with incomplete passes? Why take the chance of giving the other team an opportunity with an interception which is statistically much more likely to happen then a fumble?

              It’s not about bragging rights at the water cooler the next morning for the fans it’s about the long game and making it to the end without hurting yourself or giving the other teams something to work with.

    1. Well said. O-line and D-line need to improve dramatically.

      The refs get an F. Those illegal contact calls were atrocious – especially the one on B. Llyod

  20. O and i failed to mention something. James has no business touching the ball on offense ever. I was so wrong about this kid. When we drafted him i was as happy as can be. I figured we had found our change of pace back, a Sproles type guy, but its clear this guy sucks. I have never seen a player so incapable of gaining a yard. It seems every time he touches the rock the best outcome is a no gain. I say we try rotating Ellington in, motion him around and just try to get him the ball in space. Unlike James, Ellington looks like a gamer

    1. Really wish the team had the guts to let LMJ go and keep Glen Winston. I think Glen could have contributed if he suited up for games and if not, would be a suitable backup for CH or FG. The only thing LMJ has going for him is quickness, but unless they get him in space catching a dump off, he just doesn’t seem to have a role. He just goes down with the slightest whiff of contact.

      1. I agree with you about LMJ. But he knows the playbook and can handle punts. Winston neither. And in releasing him, I don’t think they believed anyone else would touch him because of his past.

      2. I wrote that yest and today they released LMJ. Ok fans don’t know as much as coaches and GMs but we are right sometimes too. Should have kept Winston.

        1. You guys need to get over the crush on Glen Winston already. He had some nice runs against guys no longer in the league at the end of two preseason games. RB’s are not hard to find these days.

          1. He did well with the opportunities he had. What else can you judge him by? How do you know he isn’t good against NFL level players. Answer: you don’t.

            Not saying Winston is a world-beater right now. He is simply better than LMJ. I am sure they would want him if they could get him back.

            Baalke has this habit of going with veterans/draft picks over young players who perform well in camp and preseason. It has burnt him a couple of times

  21. Good game. Nice seeing the sea of red at cowboys stadium. Dontae Johnson is going to be a starter before too long. Like all of our db’s though. We’ll be strong for 2nd half of season!

    “The 49ers would have won by more than two touchdowns if not for some ticky-tack penalty calls on the 49ers’ defense in the second half.”

    Not to mention the bad call against Lloyd on that big catch VD had late.

  22. I used to call Phil Dawson “Dr. Phil” but now he’s more like Dr. Conrad Murray (Michael Jackson’s quack doctor)…….Dawson is a complete mess now and totally unreliable.

  23. The Red Sea at Cowpaddies Stadium was awesome. I watched at South Shore Tiki Lounge and everybody there was rooting for the Niners including my nephew-in-law who was wearing his Broncos jersey. Lots of various colors showing at our hotel just cuz it was Sunday. One dude in Packers jersey and matching Packers long shorts; I resisted the impulse,to jack him up.
    Did y’all notice Demarcus Murray talking smack after plays? He’s down 21-3, coughs up a fumble that goes back for 6, gains 1-2 yards later and gets up talking smack. Whaddachump.

    1. Maui is all over the place with the nfl. Some claim it’s a niner island, some claim it’s Seahawks now. Saw a handful of GB fans too.

  24. “Michael Crabtree and Steveie Johnson each caught two passes.”
    What? Stevie Johnson who wasn’t going to make the 53-man roster? That Stevie Johnson?
    Three Turtles were too much for the Cowboys secondary? Really? OK. Just checking.

  25. this is only the 1st game but with more reinforcements coming in during the 2nd half of the season.. there is a lot to be excited about! great win for our squad & great showing from the faithfuls on their turf! with the game pretty much out of reach, the offense really didnt have to show much of their hand in the 2nd half! hard to grade this game. IMO the refs assisted the cowboys on their 2nd scoring drive & killed the niners drive with that offensive PI against Lloyd! could’ve been a blow out but im happy with the win!

  26. take a league-wide view of yesterday:
    Niners…… 28 points
    Steelers….30 points
    Broncos….31 points
    Saints…….33 points
    Dolphins…33 points
    Eagles……34 points
    Seattle……36 points
    Falcons…..37 points

    a day will come, maybe in the playoffs. maybe sooner,
    when the 49ers will need a little more offense for a win.
    So in the midst of the celebration, Coach Harbaw should
    advise Colin: 11 yards rushing on five carries is not gonna
    win a Super Bowl. At that pace, you are not “pulling focus”
    by the opposing defense – they will clamp down on yr receivers.

    16 completions on 23 pass attempts? how many of the misses
    were just plain “bad throws” rather than expertise by the
    Cowboy secondary…..? Congrats on the win, but ya gotta ways to go, fella.

    1. You kind find negative in anything can’t you loser? I bet you wet your pants in the 1st Quarter and cried yourself to sleep. I enjoy your undisguised misery.

    2. Let’s see, the Steelers needed a late FG to beat the Browns.

      The Broncos put up 31 points on a lousy Colt defense. The Colts were in that game until the end.

      The Saints lost to the Falcons. So much for their new and improved defense. The Falcons seem to have issues with their defense as well.

      The Dolphins beat NE, definetly a good win for them. Notice how you forgot to mention NE in your post? Like they won’t be able to put up points. Their defense is a different story.

      The Iggles were getting rolled by the Jags before they woke up…and yeah, Seattle’s pretty good.

      Point is, the majority of those games were decided late because of poor defensive play.

      The Niners scored enough points to win in the first few minutes of the game. I’ll be honest since I know you won’t. A missed FG and a string of poor calls by the refs(so poor that Cowboy apologist Troy Aikman was even questioning them), probably prevented this game from being what it should have been, 38-10.

      Sorry Kaep’s rushing totals aren’t dazzling you. That’s what you get when your QB is delivering the ball from the pocket.

      Did you see the first TD to VD? When he escaped pressure and made a throw that maybe a couple of QB’s in this league make with accuracy?

      Of the 23 passes thrown, only one ball was poorly thrown, one. Did you see how many poorly thrown balls came from the arm of Romo? Rodgers? Brady? More than one.

    3. The way the 49ers play against a lowly Cowboys team. It’s not so impressing, the way romo and the whole Cowboys played is embarrassing. Too many blown coverage, 5 turnovers by the offense Romo throws were in accurate and the velocity isn’t there yet. The Cowboys defence is horrible, the Cowboys need a lot work with their offense and defence. The way the Cowboys played against the 49ers is terrible. The way the 49ers played against the lowly Cowboys, they didn’t show anything yet, how good they’re playing a weak team like the Cowboys. Their performance is an average performance. If they played a better team the niners would’ve theirs hands full.

  27. Yeah I was also stunned by the amount of 49ers fans in that place yesterday..Those stands might have been half red jerseys..Tough time to be a cowboy fan

  28. Let me give one more grade to you and the rest of the reporters in the Bay Area:

    Media: BIG GIANT FAT F!!!!!!

    How in the world can you miss Frank Gore reaching 10k yards? This should have been a major story going into this game but you were so preoccupied with the Ray McDonald story you didn’t even mention Gore only needed 33 yards to eclipse 10k for his career. This should have been the topic of multiple posts and articles prior to this game. Only 28 men before Gore have reached this milestone. Gore is the first 49er to reach this milestone. You had an entire offseason to plan for this story in the first game of the year but you and the rest of the media blew it. Even Buck and Aikman barely mentioned it during the game. This is the kind of monumental milestone they stop games for and present the game ball to the man. Gore has been a true professional and he represents all that is right about football. Perseverence, Hard Work, Great Attitude, Great Teammate. This guy deserves better than you and the rest of the Bay Area media. You’re so interested in the negative story that you completed whiffed on the biggest 49er story of the weekend. You guys should go work for TMZ or Huffington Post. You certainly shouldn’t call yourselves sports reporters.

    1. Well said Houston. The inconvenient truth keeps rolling and no one will give him his due on this huge milestone. He might not be as fast and as quick, but he is a guy every superbowl contending team would love to have, even if its occasional carries.

      I thought yesterdays game was huge in silencing the critics. For the past 2 weeks people were questioning everything regarding the Niners. They came out and took care of a rival easily and in their own barn. Always, always great to win on the road. Next up, da Bears.

    2. Houston, as a football fan and a San Francisco 49ers Homer i believe the lack of attention on what Frank Gore has accomplished as a football player is completely unprofessional. This Bay Area media would publish stories about a cat climbing a tree before they would write an exclusive story on Frank Gore, a future hall of fame player. This is really sad.

    3. Yeah, I absolutely agree with this criticism.
      Where were the professional sports writers on this? Most seem so preoccupied with promoting their own personal agendas (which are invariably focused on the negative) that they did indeed whiff on an important story. What then is a professional sports writer? And why aren’t any employed in northern California?
      What did we get just before the season opener? Grant re-posting an NFL.com re-hash of an unattributed set of complaints that are part of Kawakami’s and Killion’s agenda.

      1. Brotha……L. Cohn had a choice Sunday to write an article calling Jed York “not a quality man” or writing an article about a truely quality man {Frank Gore} Guess which article he wrote?

  29. Agree that the media should be celebrating one of the all time great Niners. What about a regeuvenated Cowboy? What about what looks like a fantastic draft class this year. All 7 rookies contributed.

    Granted, some veterans need to improve, and they will, but you gotta like C. K.’s improved execution, even with the unsteady O line.

    The media all but wrote off this Niner team and they look strong and deep. Some even thought they might lose to the Cowboys. What a way to come out of the gate for an embattled team!!

    They have a few games to work on their game legs, but I was impressed. The niners created those turnovers too. Willis read the play on the int. Reid made a great play, as did Cox. And Cully’s Td was a great defensive play overall.

    1. Quite honestly, I’m shocked at the level of imcompetence in the Bay Area media. I have no idea how you would miss the Gore story when you are supposed to be a professional sports reporter. IMHO missing that story before the game is total and complete professional incompetence.

      On your other points, good win and I’ll take it. Don’t get too excited though. The 9ers still have some holes to fix and those holes are in the worst possible place. The front 7 wasn’t very good against the run. The O-line allowed way too much pressure on CK. They have to fix that or it will be a long season. It’s just a good first game opponent as the Cowboys are going to be historically awful this season. If Romo has one more game like that, he will be benched. Hell, if he has one more half like that, he will be benched. He was terrible.

  30. Frank played on so many crappy Niners teams and stuck through it, never asking for a trade. He is pure class. But I don’t think he will be the starting running back much longer, especially when Boone and Davis return.

  31. Houston:
    Agreed though I think the D plan was to take away Witten and Dez and have a high powered Cowboys offense beat you another way, which they couldn’t.

    I think the D line played Ok. They had 3 sacks and quite a few pressures and hurries, though they need to improve. Which they should as they have some very young players.

    The O line is biggest concern but it should solidify as Coone and Davis get back to their positions. Kilgore was pretty good and Martin prove he to be a good pick up with a 7th rounder.

    All-in-all a lot more positives than negatives this last game. Not to be too effusive in praise, since they are still behind the Seahawks in many areas, but a lot to build on considering the challenges they have to face.

  32. I’m not surprised the the coverage unit on special teams is struggling. Losing Osgood, Spillman, Bubba, and Patton being in-active all played a role in that.

    This is a concern going forward.

        1. Nick:

          The Cowboys returned 2 kickoffs for a total of 58 yards. The first kickoff return started out 8 yards deep in the end zone and ended on the 20 yard line. While that counts as a 28 yard return, you can’t reasonably say that it represented poor coverage by the coverage unit.

          The coverage on the second return could have been better (30 yard return to the 30), but one play hardly constitutes a sample size large enough to conclude that the coverage unit is struggling.

          Look at it this way, Dallas’ average starting position after returning kickoffs was the 25. That is not anything to worry about.

          How many punt return yards did the coverage unit give up? Zero.

              1. Yep. I guess Jewel Hampton is always an option. Assuming of course, they haven’t targeted anyone else.

  33. “……All they had to do was sit back and let the Cowboys beat themselves. …”

    All they had to do was sit back and let Tony Romo beat himself.

    there ! I fixed it for ya, Grant !!

    (yer welcome .. ;-) )

      1. u-mmmm maybe, Grant .. but there are (at least)
        no less than three 49ers .. who might agree with me, ya know ..
        Parrish Cox … Patrick Willis and Eric Reid …

        You can catch their answers to that question over
        on 49ers.com/videos …

        In the meantime … did you happen to catch this one ?? =>

        https://kclal24.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/tony-romo-meme-21.jpg

        (sorry, Grant .. tho it’s like rubbing salt into a wound ..
        still I couldn’t resist !! .. ;-) .. )

    1. Exactly, Romo should’ve just gift wrapped this game for the 49ers. If the 49ers played this kind of a game like last sunday against the cowboys, they ‘ll lose against a much better team. The 49ers still need a lot of work to do. Those grades doesn’t dismissed the 49ers with the mistakes they made in the game. They really don’t looked that good against a lowly team like the cowboys. Who’s number one in giving up a lot of points to opposing team. And Romo made too many bone headed mistake during the game, bad decision, inaccurate throws, no velocity and missed his receivers.

  34. Fangio will need to shore up the run defense. He may need to play Borland on 1st & 2nd down, Wilhoite on 3rd. Overall tackling needs work. Secondary very impressive. Cox’s pick was epic. Reid should be a Pro Bowler. Would like to see Tank & Dial rotate in DL. Pass rush inconsistent.
    OL ok, but will be better w/Boone & AD. They love blocking for Gore & Hyde. Their celebration after CH’s TD was telling. Kap has eye of the tiger now. Boldin still the man. Good to see SJ catch some.
    Lee still great, Dawson?

  35. Man, that was a fun game to watch. The only problem is that Dallas was not much of a test (their fall from 2013 Super Bowl favorite to 2014 laughinstock was quick), so I don’t know how many questions were answered. That said, I’ll take it.

    1. It definitely was Claude! I think someone said it in an earlier comment, that we still don’t know much about this team. And I wonder how much of a test Chicago will be after that upset against Buffalo.

      I was thinking the Eagles would likely be our first “real” test, but they look a bit off as well, especially Foles. But I still think McCoy alone will be a big test for this Run-D.

      1. It’s hard not to but you have to temper your reactions to the first couple of weeks of upsets. Remember that we started 1-2 last year with the two losses being quite lopsided.

        Week one is more like week 5 of the preseason sometimes.

  36. On the 1st quarter TD strike by CK7, Vernon Davis bobbled the pass … he was body catching the ball. If a defender were on him, he probably would have dropped it.

    1. He later dropped one that bounced right off of his numbers, he still tries to body catch passes and that’s something your taught not to do at the Pop Warner level so there is no excuse for that crap in the NFL.

  37. Romo was terrible but let’s give some credit to Fangio’s schemes and not just put it all on Romo. I’ve seen Romo throw the ball up like that many times and get completions so it’s not like the defense didn’t play a part in this.

    I haven’t watched the game a second time yet, but on first look, it appears the plan was to force Dallas to settle for short throws and running the ball by taking away the big play with zone coverages. Fangio correctly deduced that Romo would force some throws and he did. While I don’t like the rushing totals, I’m also not going to panic after one week especially considering that seemed to be what they wanted Dallas to do.

    When we consider this team was playing backups at 4 positions most of the game and were without two of their best due to injury and suspension, I’m pleased with what I saw. That is a very good offense, top 5 in fact, and the Niners held them in check all game.

    Offensively, it looked like Iupati had a couple of brain cramps yet again and Staley got beat bad on one play he took a holding call, but overall the Oline was decent and the right side held up well. It became obvious very quickly that the Niners would be able to do whatever they wanted in the passing game and could have made this a much bigger blowout if they had done more of it in the second half, but the only thing that matter is a win and they got it.

    I’ll have a better idea of what happened when I get a chance to look at it again, but for the first game on the road after not much time in the preseason, the offense looked pretty good and the defense held up very well considering all the losses they went in with and suffered during the game.

    The biggest issue for me was the poor officiating in the second half. Phantom calls twice on 3rd down extended the Dallas TD drive, and a horrible PI call on Lloyd took away a huge pass and run to Davis. The Niners will be submitting a cutup of these calls to the league office for sure. They really need to have a system in place to make officials responsible for bad calls. There should be a suspension or fining system because these guys can change the course of a game sometimes. Luckily it didn’t happen yesterday, but it will at some point. They have to be held accountable for these poor calls imo.

    1. They really need to have a system in place to make officials responsible for bad calls.
      ————————-
      We wont get because it would take away one of the leagues tools of control but an easy way to fix this would be to make all plays/calls be reviewable. Since each team still gets a limited # of reviews there really is no sensible reason to not allow every single type of play to be reviewed especially penalty calls that can have a major impact on a game.

    2. What I heard yesterday is that romo didn’t practice this offseason, new offensive scheme. That showed yesterday because watching it again it shows some cowboys open and romo didn’t pull the trigger. When he starts later in the season once he’s up on the offense, they will score a lot. And probably would have scored more on is if he had known the offense. Two int’s by Willis and reid could have been easy TD’s had romo just made the throw to the wide open receivers. I’m concerned about the defense. Very concerned. Hoping we at least go 6-3 before Smith gets back.

    3. “……That is a very good offense, top 5 in fact, and the Niners held them in check all game…..”

      I’ll never be confused as being a stat-junkie .. but rocket ..
      a top 5 offense … really ?? … the Cowboys ?

      Ok… sure .. Romo had that one long bomb he threw
      (and completed) .. but other than that .. I saw nothing
      from him that would ever change my opinion of him…

      He’s still the biggest choker in the league !

      Stats aside .. CK7 surpassed Romo in his first
      half season of starting !

      1. MWN,
        Choker or not this team still puts up big stats every season. Their O-line looks to be the strongest they’ve had in some time now, they have one of the best receivers in the league, one of the best TE’s, and, when healthy, a very good RB. They have a great offense.

        However, I will say Romo looked very off yesterday. A lot of his throws we very off, badly timed, and inaccurate. I wonder if its the practice time he missed or if his back is still bothering him.

        1. “….Choker or not this team still puts up big stats every season. ..”

          Leo …
          One of the main reasons I never put much stock in stats ..is
          they don’t mean anything ..

          I can’t argue your point about the Cowboys stats being
          good … but Dan Marino had all the stats in the world …
          but .. he still doesn’t have a ring !

          I read somewhere the Cowboys went 8-8
          the last three seasons …

          If that’s true … I wonder ..
          what good all those “great” stats did for Romo ?

          1. MWN,

            I agree with all your points. Romo is a notorious choke artist and this team has been average (at best) overall. All I was saying is that most of their losses and struggles stem from horrific defense, and not being able to close out games (choking), but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this offense is very talented and can and usually does put up points in a hurry. So I believe Rockets argument was this was a top 5 offense, and a good test for our Defense, and I agree. Neither of us are arguing the Cowboys are a great team overall and are going to make an epic SB run, that shipped has long sailed.

    4. Rocket, you are right about the officiating, there were some simply horrendous calls. And they all seemed to come in the 2nd half on critical plays when Dallas really needed help to come back and make a game of it. This game could have been a huge blowout if not for the officiating.

    1. He did well ricardo. He went to his 3rd read a couple of times, and seemed comfortable in the pocket. The first pass to Boldin showed a clear improvement as he avoided outside pressure, stepped up in the pocket and delivered a strike as he was being hit. That one play showed a lot of advancement in his game.

  38. Offensive skill positions – A. In a reversal of recent seasons, the offensive ball handlers bailed out trench deficiencies.

    Defensive skill positions – B+. In a reversal of recent seasons, the defensive backs bailed out the front 7.

    Front 7 – C. Hard to grade. They made plays (like forced fumbles and a few sacks). On the other hand, I haven’t seen the 49ers defense get run on so consistently in five years… going back to the mid-Manusky era.

    There may have been games with worse run totals, but I can’t recall any game where offenses consistently ripped 7 yard runs on first down going back to 2009.

    Running Backs – B+. When there were holes, 49er backs gained yards. The best run was a 2 yarder by Hyde. Should have been a loss. I know know how Carlos had only 3 negative hard plays in 183 snaps last year.

    49er Defensive Player of the game – Tony Romo.
    49er Offensive Player of the game – Boldin

    Dallas Defensive Player of the game – The Officials
    Dallas Offensive Players of the game – Their O-line and running backs. (honorable mention to the Officials)

    1. Honorable Mention: Some nice pressures from Lynch. No sacks, but he compressed the pocket and looked like he belonged. Special when you consider he’s from a small school (last two years), had a truncated camp due to injury.

      Dishonorable Mention: LMJ. Really? His presence telegraphs peripheral run. The whole stadium knows he’s going wide.
      We let Winston go for this guy?

      Hyde had 3 negative yardage plays in 183 snaps last year. I hope someone charts LMJ’s negative yardage ratio.

      In the 49ers ball control system neg yardage plays are drive killers.

        1. Brodie thats very good news. Do we have a RB on the practice squad? Who signed Winston? I believe he has to be on his teams 57 man roster, if not we can resign him.

          1. The Browns grabbed Winston off the practice squad during the 24 waiver period. Didn’t take them the whole 24 hours to make that decision.

            Such is the consequences of not cutting loose poor draft picks.

      1. I criticize LMJ, he’s off the team 10 minutes later. I seem to have the magic tough.

        Want someone off the 49ers? Send check or money order to PO Box… I’ll make it happen.

    2. I know exactly what play your talking about, that the play that stood out to me the most regarding Hyde’s performance. That’s a very rare quality for a young back. I’m really excited to see this kid play this season.

      I still don’t understand why Tank or Dial aren’t getting a chance to contribute, especially over Dobbs or TJE. Tank seems like he could definitely give this pass-rush a boost.

  39. Business has taken me out to Chicago this week. Bears fans are in serious grip mode right now. They are concerned that Harbaugh is going to kill them with scheme on Sunday night.

  40. Yea, that was definitely some bad officiating in that game. I could be wrong but I think all 3 of those horrible calls in the secondary were made by the same guy. Someone needs to see if he went to the Tim Donaghy school of officiating. Not sure who called that Hold on Looney but that was a BS call too.

    1. Houston …
      those lousy secondary calls had me wondering if
      it was the same guy who called the roughing the passer
      on Brooks (vs Drew Breese), last year …

      That was the call that changed the balance of power
      in the NFCW

      1. And is it coincidence those two defensive calls were on 3 rd down? And the Lloyd call also….. It’s not how many it’s when you cal them, just like the biggest robbery in New Orleans that killed our homefield and the last playoff game at candlestick.

  41. I suspected that LMJ could have been the source for the “Harbaugh loses locker room” reports, now they just gave him his release. Sayonara to my least favorite 49er since Lawrence Philipps….

  42. Watch Seattle or Philly pick him up. I think we used him completely wrong. Hopefully they do a better job of getting Ellington the ball open space

  43. Hopefully a lesson learned for Trent Balke…you can make a mistake by overreaching for a player in the second round, but learn to face up to your mistake and do not compound and double down on that mistake by bypassing more talented players at the same position to defend your choice. This has cost the team Glenn Winston, a talent who might have been helpful if the team gets down on the depth chart this season. James is lacking in both talent and character….

  44. I dont think seattle with pick him up, they have a lot of backs already and i dont think philly wth proles. What about baltimore with rice done?
    Who will replace him on the roster? Should have kept winston

  45. Even though this was only the first game of the season, I think it was important that it was a road game win. I say this because I think road game wins are going to be key to the 49ers having a shot at winning the division. When you have a team in the division like Seattle who could very well go undefeated at home, you have to hope that they will go 4-4 on the road to end up with a 12-4 record. While it would be great if the 49ers could go undefeated at home, I’m not sure if there is really that much home-field advantage in a new stadium. I would hope for a 6-2 home record and the same on the road to match a possible Seattle 12-4 record — then hope for the tie-breakers by better division record or head-to-head wins against Seattle. Honestly, I think this will be how it would have to play out for the 49ers to enter the playoffs other than as a wild-card team. Of course, it’s early and a lot of things can happen to either team over the course of the season, but I guess I’m not as ready to concede the division as I have seen many 49er fans already have over the last few weeks.

  46. Like i said yesterday-it was obvious the “source” slamming harbaugh was James. Glad they got that cancer out of the locker room.

    Wish they were smart enough to do it a week ago so they could have kept winston though.

    1. In light of this, I imagine the Niners have that hole card available to them if damning evidence comes to their attention on Ray McDonald; Kawakami and Killion’s notwithstanding.

  47. Was Dorsey ever moved to the injury list? Dont we get an extra roster spot there?
    I know osgood was cut to make room for boone. What is going on with Dorsey shouldnt we be able to sign osgood and one more player with LMJ being cut and the dorsey roster spot?

    1. The Dorsey move was already made which is how they brought Osgood back the first time. The likely move to bring Osgood back this week if they do, is by releasing Farrell if Davis is deemed healthy enough to play. They could use the spot vacated by James, but I’d guess they want another RB to fill that role.

  48. I’ve long been a defender of giving LMJ a chance and believe many of you just used him as a crutch for your frustrations, but it’s obvious the Coaching staff either doesn’t know how to use him or don’t believe in him as they gave him only two snaps yesterday, so might as well cut the chord and bring in somebody the Coaches will actually use. I’m guessing Alphonso Smith is resigned soon.

    1. no matter what- the niners would have still kept James if he wasn’t such a malcontent. James has been taking every opportunity to bash the franchise. The NFL.com story is what this is all about. Also love how the agent is spinning, James asked for his release…. he asked for it a few times before…. but what he did was made a silly story on NFL.com the morning of the first game of the season.

      LMJ is toxic.

      1. Bigman, you might be right about him being the source for Ian Rapaport. Just listened to this morning’s video on Harbaugh speaking about LMJ’s release, and my take is he is not too happy with James at this point.

      2. Big Suede, I think you are right. All the talk about discontent in the locker room the past few days, and now they release LMJ who was probably the most vocal malcontent on the roster. Coincidence?

    2. Simply motioning him out of the backfield into a slot position could have made him one of the most dangerous people on the field. How do you feel they will use Ellington in the long run? They are somewhat similar. Their man attribute is being fast and shifty

      1. Ellington is a slot WR. LMJ is a change of pace back. Some roles might overlap, but I don’t see Ellington having any problems getting snaps.

        Ellington Expected Role is:
        1) Slot receiver
        2) Line up wide
        3) Line up in the backfield ala Harvin
        4) Returns kicks and punts

        LMJ’s Expected Role was:
        1) Change of pace back
        2) Occasionally motions to WR
        3) Returns kicks and punts

        Did LMJ line up (frequently) at WR/slot in Oregon?

        1. The didn’t line him up a lot at slot at Oregon but the ran him out of the backfield a lot. Whether it was a flare, wheel, flat, etc the did a good job of getting him one on ones with LB’s and DB’s in space. I don’t know how he would have done lining up in the slot position but I do feel running him out of the backfield into a pass route is where he would have been most effective.

      2. Ky49er,

        The day the drafted him I envisioned it was because they were looking for their Sproles and would use him in that way. For whatever reason they’ve never found a role for him and it’s unfortunate.

        1. I think they envisioned him as a star in their read-option offense with Kaep. But it all went pear-shaped at the start of last season when Kaep hurt his foot and James got dinged – the offense was really bad in those two losses in weeks 2 and 3 where they ran a lot of read-option. After that they went back to a more traditional running game with a heavy dose of Gore, and James was lost in the shuffle.

          Fast forward to 2014, and the 49ers draft Hyde, who excels in read-option but can also run out of traditional sets, can catch, can get to the outside, can go through the middle, and can pass block. The perfect back for the 49ers. And they have Ellington for PR duties. James is no longer needed, and he’s been vocal about his dissatisfaction. Writing was on the wall.

    1. Not a physical enough back for the Ravens, and with the potential of being a cancer, no way I can see brother John taking him in after Jim could not find a role for him.

  49. Very happy that the Ravens run a first class operation and threw Ray Rice to the curb, no team will ever pick up that guy again . Also LaMichael James is gone, bot sides should be happy with that.

    1. I believe they had proof of that same video and didn’t make the decision of releasing him until the video was made public. If true they do not deserve to be called classy.

  50. I love V Davis…. But I can’t stand the fact that he can’t catch a pass without the hop or jump. He refuses to catch with his hands. Good news is he gets it done most of the time when he has to have the pass hit the numbers, but damn they don’t all have to hit the numbers VD.

  51. Does anybody have the snap count for Lynch? He sure seemed to be on the field a lot yesterday. And did anybody notice that there were at least a couple of plays where he lined up on the left side at OLB while Lemonier played inside with Brooks at OLB on the right side? I don’t recall seeing Fangio using three OLB’s like that before.

      1. Claude, thanks. I usually check Barrows and Maiocco before coming to this blog, but came right to this site to see the grades from Grant.

          1. Claude, you’re right about that. Not what I was expecting to see at all. Just when I think Grant is totally predictable, I found out that he is only 99% predictable, lol.

    1. Good point. I did see Brooks rushing from the right once, but did not see the rest of what you are describing. I assume it was a third and long? Fangio sure must like Lynch.

  52. Back to grades from this game. I am really impressed with the secondary and the depth. Once we get our pro bowlers back this D could be scary

  53. It will be easier to grade when there won’t be a lopsided game where the 49ers were almost in a prevent defense from the start. Impressive were the plays that got the ball turned over to them. CK looked much more poised which is a good sign. Would like the RB’s and Slot to receive some more balls for diversity.

  54. Does any body have an opinion why Dial and Carradine were’nt activated? I think they both looked better than Jerrod-Eddie and Dobbs in the preseason.

    1. Reason #1: They only need five DL active for 3-4 that plays a lot of nickel, so two guys were always likely to be in plain clothes.

      Reason #2: Carradine and Dial always came in after Dobbs and TJE during preseason, so they were clearly behind them in the depth chart.

      Reason #3: Why they are behind them I think comes down to the mental aspect of the game. Fangio wants assignment sound guys out there, and he’s mentioned a couple of times that Tank isn’t there yet mentally. I guess Dial hasn’t shown he is there yet either.

      Reason #4: Dobbs and TJE are more versatile. TJE has more experience at NT than Dial, so if Williams goes down they are more likely to want TJE suited up than Dial. Dobbs meanwhile is a regular on STs, so offers better depth and versatility than Dial and Carradine in that regard.

  55. Never really understood the LMJ pick to begin with. I felt that he was similar to KHunt in size with perhaps more speed to turn the corner on runs. Also, it is unfair for anyone to describe LMJ as a ‘cancer’ in the locker room without truly knowing the facts.
    If all he did was state that he wanted more playing time, I don’t view that as a cancer by any stretch.

    James never became the COP/RB the 49ers were looking for, because they never geared their offense to his skill level.
    KHunt survived (before his injury) because he could provide some between the tackles running along with fair blocking.

    The emergence of CHyde made LMJ expendable given the type of RB our offense runs. James was a fish out of water in our offense, I hope he finds his niche on another team and excels.

    1. Just watched that. I couldn’t stop laughing. It was so bad the guy’s girlfriend/wife had to come in and check on him.

      1. “… please take that Cowboys jersey off of my daughter…”

        Thanx, Crabs … funny stuff ! … but ..
        you think you’ll get a reaction from Grant ?

        I dunno … he’s been ignoring the Romo stuff I’ve posted !
        lol

  56. At least this week we dont have to hear about how we can’t score, red zone issues, Ray McDonald. Lotta positives.
    This week there should be several writeups pertaining to Gore.
    See Kaep is highest rated Qbr in entire NFL.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *