5 matchups to watch: 1. Justin Smith vs. Derrick Dockery

Justin Smith: 6’4”, 285 lbs., 31 years old
Derrick Dockery: 6’6”, 325 lbs., 31 years old

It looks like the Cowboys will start their backup right guard, Derrick Dockery, at left guard on Sunday instead of David Arkin, the rookie listed as the backup left guard. The starter at that position, Bill Nagy, is doubtful to play with a neck injury.

Still, this is a matchup between the Niners’ best defensive lineman and the Cowboys’ weakest link on the offensive line.

Dockery has played and started for the Washington Redskins and the Buffalo Bills, but he’s a backup at this stage of his career.

If the Niners are going to pressure Tony Romo, they’re probably going to have to bring blitzes. But before they do that, they might be able to bring simple pressure right through Dockery.

Smith should dominate Dockery all game long and Dallas probably will have to double team the Niners’ best D lineman. That means veteran left tackle Doug Free will have to help.

When this happens, the Niners can switch up their rush by sending Smith to Free, and bringing Parys Haralson, the right outside linebacker, inside to beat the slower Dockery and to sack Romo. The Niners front seven works on this move frequently in practice.

Matchup advantage: Niners.

Check throughout the day. Four more matchups to come.

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