An inside look at Sunday Night’s Cowboys-49ers week 5 matchup at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
49ers Offensive Line vs Cowboys Defensive Line
In the season opener at Pittsburgh, 49ers right tackle Colton McKivitz allowed T.J. Watt to sack Brock Purdy three times. Next up for McKivitz is Michah Parsons.
Parsons is the Cowboys top pass rusher. He has recorded four sacks, four quarterback hits and 19 hurries through the first four games.
Slowing Parsons down won’t just be up to McKivitz. The Cowboys linebacker moves around the formation, forcing the entire offensive line to prepare for him.
For Dallas, it is not just Parsons who can heat up opposing quarterbacks.
The Cowboys have recorded 97 total quarterback pressures this season. DeMarcus Lawrence is right behind Parsons. The defensive end has recorded a pair of sacks and pressured opposing quarterbacks an additional 13 times.
Along the interior, defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa could cause problems for Spencer Burford and Aaron Banks. Odighizuwa is second on the Cowboys in sacks with three on the season.
Jack’s Pick: Dallas is the only team to hold the 49ers under 20 points with Brock Purdy at quarterback, holding San Francisco to 19 in their NFC Divisional round matchup last year. They won’t do that this time around.
San Francisco has scored on 13 of its 19 first half possessions. They have punted just three times and knelt to run out the clock another three.
The Cowboys offense has done a good job of moving the ball but has struggled in the redzone.
These patterns will continue Sunday night.
49ers 30 Cowboys 20
Not you, Tony: It is imperative for the 49ers to contain Tony Pollard on Sunday night.
The Cowboys running back is one of the best in the NFL. Through the first four weeks his 311 rushing yards ranks fifth best in the NFL. He comes into this game having rushed for 70 or more yards in each of the last three weeks.
Making those numbers more impressive is Pollard has been putting those numbers up behind a makeshift offensive line. All signs point to the Cowboys putting their starting offensive line on the field for the first time this season.
San Francisco needs to take Pollard out of the Cowboys game plan. This will allow them to turn up the heat on Dak Prescott which is a recipe for generating turnovers.
CeeDee in the slot: Steve Wilks’ defense has been inconsistent in the slot over the course of the first four weeks as he’s bounced between Deommodore Lenoir and Isaiah Oliver.
Whoever Wilks chooses to play inside on Sunday will primarily be matched up with CeeDee Lamb.
“They move him around quite a bit, but they’re always trying to find and create matchups, so yes,” said Wilks when asked this week if he expects to see Lamb in the slot quite a bit on Sunday.
Lamb comes into the game as the Cowboys leading receiver with 23 receptions for 309 yards. He has lined up in the slot on 150 of his 220 snaps this season.
The 49ers will need to find the balance of playing tight coverage while not allowing Lamb to be explosive.
In the playoff game last season Lamb had a 46-yard reception but was held to just 71 yards total on his other nine receptions while holding Dallas to just 12 points.
YAC Attack: There has been a lot of talk this week whether Brock Purdy is a product of Kyle Shanahan’s system. Regardless of what side of the discussion you fall on, everyone can agree the 49ers are one of the best teams in the league at generating yards after the catch. San Francisco is averaging 5.6 yards after the catch this season, seventh best in the NFL.
Getting opposing receivers to the ground has not been a strong point for the Dallas defense.
The Cowboys have allowed 5.7 yards after the catch per reception over the first four weeks. That is the sixth most in the NFL. This plays right into the strength of Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Christian McCaffrey.
Player of the Week: Christian McCaffrey was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week after recording 177 all-purpose yards, including 106 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries, in the 49ers week four victory over Arizona.
On Sunday he will face Cowboys defense which has allowed 4.6 yards per rush attempt, the seventh highest average in the NFL through its first four weeks.
It was a bit of a slog on the ground for McCaffrey in the playoff game last season. Dealing with a calf injury, he gained just 35 yards on 10 carries against Dallas.
McCaffrey is healthy now and leading the league in rushing with 459 yards rushing while averaging 5.7 yards per attempt. Dallas has faced just one team this season with a balanced offensive attack like San Francisco. They allowed 28 points and lost.