Five Things I'll Be Thinking About as I Watch the Cowboys Defense vs. 49ers

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1. How many sacks will DeMarcus Ware get this week?

I will probably ask this question every week, if for no other reason than to remind you that it was way back in week 1 when I wrote that Ware would have the chance to set a new personal record for sacks in a season. Against the Jets, he was used in a multitude of ways that I have never seen before. He ended up with 2 solo sacks and several pressures.

It is hard to imagine that the SF line will handle Ware much better than the Jets did. Watching what Ryan does with a Ware is going to be a delight this season. Ware made the Jets pay for failing to double-team him several times; will the 49ers dare to leave him singled up against anyone? I will also be watching how many snaps he will take on the bench.

2. Will Victor Butler be able to make an impact?

He played only 11 snaps last week; he did nothing noteworthy. Butler could be an integral piece on this defense if he could play enough to keep both Ware and Spencer fresh for the end of games. He showed flashes of potential last year in limited chances. I will be watching for him to demonstrate that he can be an effective situational pass-rusher. Perhaps seeing the success and promotion of the younger Sean Lee will be enough evidence to inspire Butler to play well enough to earn more snaps. I will be watching to see if Ware is allowed to rest more in the 2nd half if Butler has some success early on.

3. Can Sean Lee have another monster game?

Not only is just about every sports journalist, writer, and blogger singing the praises of Lee this week, most of them are behaving as though they expected it to happen. I, for one, was surprised that Lee played as much as he did, and that he played as well as he did. He rarely came out of the game; James and Brooking rotated with each other. He had a ProBowl caliber performance. The return off the INT convinced me that he really did play RB back in high school.

I have been skeptical of Lee since they drafted him in the second round. I am eager to admit that I was wrong and then claim that the only thing that kept me from being a believer in Lee was an irrational fear of another Bobby Carpenter. That being said, I have not yet officially jumped on the ‘See Lean for the ProBowl band-wagon’, although I am trotting along beside it ready to get on board after a few more stellar outings like the one against the Jets.

I still think that he needs to get stronger, particularly in the upper body. He has shown that he can be very effective in space, I will be watching to see if he is strong enough to shed blockers and get off blocks effectively.

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