Today, the San Francisco 49ers will open up their 2014 season on the road in Arlington, Texas to face the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Jim Harbaugh enters his fourth season as the head coach of the 49ers and, despite some early question marks, expectations are high for this team.
The 49ers finished last season one game short of another Super Bowl appearance. They played in their third straight NFC Championship game, but lost that game 23-17 to division rival Seattle, who would go on to win the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos. The 49ers finished the regular season with a 12-4 record and an overall record of 14-5.
The Cowboys finished last season with a 8-8 record, losing three of their last four. It was the third straight season that they finished at .500.
It has been announced that defensive tackle Ray McDonald will play for the 49ers. On August 31, he was arrested for domestic violence. However, the investigation is ongoing and McDonald has not been charged with a crime.
The situation has brought a lot of controversy to the team with some saying that McDonald should not be allowed to play. However, the 49ers and the NFL are taking the stance that no punishment will fall on McDonald until all of the facts are known in the alleged assault. Harbaugh has stated that the team will not tolerate domestic violence, but that they also respect due process.
The 49ers will be without linebacker Aldon Smith for the first nine games of the season. He has been suspended by the league for violations of the NFL's substance abuse and personal conduct policies. It's a tough situation for the 49ers considering that the defense was already without linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who tore his left ACL in last season's NFL Championship loss.
The team will also be without their reliable backup running back, Kendall Hunter, who suffered an ACL tear in late July. Last season, the 49ers averaged 137.6 yards per game on the ground, which ranked third in the league. Frank Gore had 1,128 yards rushing, which was the seventh time in eight seasons that he eclipsed 1,000.
Harbaugh has won all three of his season openers. During those wins, the offense has scored an average of 32.3 points.
The Cowboys allowed 415.3 yards per game last season, which ranked last in the NFL. To make things worse, the defense lost DeMarcus Ware to Denver and Jason Hatcher to Washington. They had hoped that rookie defensive end Demarcus Lawrence could help improve the already depleted unit. However, he has been lost for much of the season with a broken right foot.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who is entering his 11th season, threw 31 touchdowns last year compared to 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who had 21 through the air and completed just 58.4% of his passes. However, Kaepernick added four more touchdowns on the ground. Romo is 2-0 against the 49ers.
The biggest threat on offense is wide receiver Dez Bryant, who started the rivalry this week with this prank on Colin Kaepernick. Last season, Bryant ranked third in the NFL with 13 touchdowns and 1,233 yards receiving.
The game kicks off at 1:25 PM PT and, as usual, you can visit 49erswebzone.com for the latest news and updates during and after the game.
The 49ers are 4 point favorites.
Within Yahoo! Sports, a popular mobile scores application, 67% of fans believe that the 49ers will win this game.
Within our Pick 'em contest, 99% of fans believe that the 49ers will win this game.
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The game will be televised to most of the country on FOX.
You can listen to the radio broadcast on KNBR 680, The Bone 107.7 FM, and Sirius Radio 85 and 139