SANTA CLARA — Here is what to watch for in the 49ers’ season opener against the Cowboys, a game I expect the 49ers will win by 10 points at least.
1. The 49ers’ pass attack. Even if Anthony Davis doesn’t play, the 49ers’ passing game should look better than ever on Sunday. The Cowboys’ defense is unspeakable. They have no run defense, no pass rush and no one in the secondary who can cover Vernon Davis or Anquan Boldin or anyone. Colin Kaepernick should produce one of his best passing performances of his NFL career in this game.
2. The 49ers’ run defense. The Cowboys have a good offensive line and two good running backs — DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar. They should run the ball effectively this season. Watch to see if the 49ers’ front seven can shut down Dallas’ run game without NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, Glenn Dorsey and possibly Ray McDonald.
3. The Cowboys’ no-huddle offense. It’s supposed to be 91 degrees in Arlington on Sunday. I would open up AT&T Stadium’s retractable roof and make the California team play in the Texas heat if I were the Cowboys’ head coach. Then I would start the game with a no-huddle offense to tire out the 49ers’ injury-depleted defense. I’d want them baking. I’d want them sweating like pigs. And I’d want Patrick Willis calling the 49ers’ defensive signals on the field while the play clock is running.