Super Wild Card Weekend is fast approaching and the Dallas Cowboys are getting ready to host the San Francisco 49ers at home in AT&T Stadium. The 49ers are coming off an impressive overtime victory over the Rams and are looking to continue that momentum by beating Dallas. The Cowboys are hoping to finally prove that they can take down a formidable opponent with a roster that is stronger than one they have had in a while.
The Cowboys beat San Fran last year in December, but a lot has changed since then. The 49ers have strong offensive weapons and their run defense is statistically impressive. Even though they had to fight their way into the playoffs, San Francisco is still a tough team to beat.
So, how will the Cowboys do it? For starters, all players on both sides of the ball need to play their best football. This isn’t a walk-in-the-park NFC East game. Dak Prescott needs to be the quarterback he was in Week 18 rather than Week 17, and the defense needs to strategically use all of its weapons to stop a threatening 49ers offense.
Aside from remaining in rhythm and playing four great quarters as a unit, here are three San Francisco weaknesses that the Cowboys can specifically take advantage of.
3. The Cornerback Situation
The 49ers have had issues with their cornerbacks since the beginning of the season. Veteran Josh Norman was benched in Week 17 after a pass interference call. Norman was allowing over 60% of his targets to be completed and these catches led to an average of almost 10 yards per target. Statistically, he has been one of the worst cornerbacks in the NFL.
Norman will probably end up at No. 3 or No. 4 on the depth chart against the Cowboys, which likely puts the secondary game in the hands of Emmanuel Moseley, Ambry Thomas, and K’Waun Williams.
Moseley was activated off the IR just ahead of the game against the Rams after suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 13. He did have an interception and five tackles in Week 18, but the fourth-year corner is still one of those fringe players who fans constantly want to upgrade.
On the other side, the 49ers will have a raw rookie in Ambry Thomas. Yes, Thomas did make the game-winning interception against the Rams (which was a terrible pass by Stafford), but he also had zero other tackles the entire rest of the contest.
So, the third-round rookie was ready for the spotlight when it literally fell into his hands once. Big deal. The playoffs are an entirely different animal.
San Francisco’s struggling secondary is not going to bode well with the Cowboys’ offense having multiple tough-to-contain wide receiver weapons. The 49ers had relatively no answers for Rams’ WR Cooper Kupp who finished the day with seven receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown. That’s one guy (no, OBJ isn’t what he used to be). Dallas has Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and new standout Cedrick Wilson who has been a huge help in Michael Gallup’s place.
If Prescott and his wide receiver corps continue to stay in rhythm as they did against the Eagles, the 49ers are going to have a rough time in the secondary.