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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports


49ers’ Kyle Shanahan on talented Cowboys: “It’s very obvious why they’re in this position”

Jan 12, 2022 at 4:45 PM


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After clinching a playoff berth against a star-studded Los Angeles Rams team in the final minutes of Sunday's thrilling 27-24 game, it seems like the Niners have a stronger opponent ahead of them: the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys had their best season, finishing 12-5 and making the playoffs as the third seed in the NFC with the help of a very talented roster and experienced coaching staff.

49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan knows he'll have his hands full in this matchup. "I mean you can see why [the Cowboys] are in this position. I mean just offensively, defensively, special teams; I mean their numbers are you know off the charts on both sides in both phases; they've got very good talent they've got very good schemes."

Shanahan has high praise for the always explosive Cowboys offense that just routed the Philadelphia Eagles 51-26 and finished the season with the NFL's leading team in terms of offensive yards per game. "Their offense starting with their quarterback, he's a great player. Kellen [Moore] does a real good job schematically especially with the receivers they have and the two running backs they have and the whole line they have."

The 49ers coach also has a history with the new first-year Defensive Coordinator for the Cowboys Dan Quinn. Shanahan served as Quinn's offensive coordinator during the Atlanta Falcons' run to the Super Bowl in 2016. In Quinn's short term with the Cowboys, the team's defense skyrocketed from being one of the worst in the league to an elite unit that forces turnovers and applies pressure on any offensive line. Shanahan has taken notice of this group's capabilities and knows his offense will be challenged.

"Their defense just looks so much to me like a Dan Quinn defense. I mean he's changed a lot schematically in coverages and everything, but the way those 11 guys play, attack the ball, and go for the ball. He's got them going and it's not a coincidence they're leading the league in getting turnovers," Shanahan continued.

Both Quinn and Shanahan still have great respect for each other talents and San Francisco's HC is impressed by small updates in defensive philosophy his old coaching colleague has created, "They [the Dallas Cowboys] play the exact same way and it's very obvious when you see them on tape and that's the coolest thing about Dan. But just coverage-wise and stuff, it's very different. Not as much cover-three and the type of man coverages that they're doing, that's impressive for Dan to do it a certain way his whole career and then to make the adjustments, mainly because of his personnel, just stuff that he wants to add, but it looks like his first time doing it, at least since I've known him. And it's definitely been very good and it's hard to deal with, but who he is doesn't change."

In a win-or-go-home situation for both teams, this bout looks to be very competitive.
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