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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

49ers survive sloppy finish to advance to Divisional Round with 23-17 win over Cowboys

Jan 16, 2022 at 5:04 PM--

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1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
SF 10 6 7 0 23
DAL 0 7 0 10 17

One week after riding a remarkable comeback win over the Los Angeles Rams to a spot in the postseason, the San Francisco 49ers almost found themselves on the opposite side of the spectrum in Sunday's Wild Card showdown against the Dallas Cowboys. But after being in control for much of game before losing momentum in the fourth quarter, the 49ers were able to fight off a Cowboys rally to come out of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas with a 23-17 win.

The 49ers cruised to a 23-7 lead over the Cowboys early in the fourth quarter, but the Cowboys were able to get back to within six points after turning a late interception from 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo into a touchdown. The Cowboys had two possessions with under three minutes to play to give them a chance to pull off a comeback, but the 49ers were able to hold on by a thread each time to escape with a victory.

Garoppolo finished 172 yards and one interception on 16-of-25 passing, while Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott finished with 254 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 23-of-43 passing. Penalties were costly for the Cowboys, who committed 14 infractions for 89 yards.

First Half

The 49ers fielded the opening kickoff and put together a statement drive right off the bat, moving 75 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 4-yard touchdown run from running back Elijah Mitchell. Two runs for ten total yards by wide receiver Deebo Samuel started the drive, then Garoppolo connected on passes of 17 yards to Travis Benjamin and 11 yards to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk to move to the Cowboys' 32-yard line. After a 13-yard run from Mitchell and a 15-yard completion to Samuel to set up a 1st-and-Goal, Mitchell ran in untouched to give the 49ers an early lead.

The strong start continued on the next possession for the 49ers by forcing a three-and-out after the opening touchdown. A first-down incompletion from Prescott was followed by a second-down tackle-for-loss by linebacker Dre Greenlaw on running back Ezekiel Elliott, then defensive end Nick Bosa broke free on third down for a sack and a 10-yard loss.

The next drive didn't pack the same punch as the first drive for the 49ers but ended in points nonetheless. An 11-yard completion to wide receiver Jauan Jennings on a 3rd-and-10 early in the drive moved the ball across midfield, then after three runs from Mitchell advanced the ball to the 29-yard line, the 49ers moved backwards after an 11-yard loss and a five-yard delay of game penalty. But a 10-yard completion on third down to fullback Kyle Juszczyk put the 49ers back in field goal range, then kicker Robbie Gould connected from 53 yards out to give the 49ers a 10-0 lead.

Another Cowboys punt followed the field goal, then the 49ers put together another scoring drive, this one spanning 12 plays and 56 yards while taking almost eight minutes off the clock. The 49ers got an exceptional catch and reach on a 3rd-and-9 at the Cowboys' 41-yard line from wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk to get into field goal range, but they fell one yard short on an ensuing 3rd-and-3 run by Samuel, which led to head coach Kyle Shanahan choosing to extend the lead to 13-0 via a 40-yard field goal from Gould instead of going for a conversion on fourth down.

The Cowboys got their offense in gear on the next possession, moving 67 yards in nine plays to cut the 49ers' lead to 13-7 on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Prescott to wide receiver Amari Cooper. An 18-yard completion from Prescott to wide receiver Cedrick Wilson set the Cowboys up at the 49ers' 25-yard line, then Prescott found Cooper in the end zone on a 3rd-and-5 to finish the drive.

A fourth consecutive scoring drive for the 49ers followed the Cowboys touchdown, albeit one that ended in another field goal. The drive only lasted five plays for the 49ers, who moved across midfield on the first play of the possession when Garoppolo connected with Aiyuk for 37 yards. Gould followed with a 52-yard field goal four plays later to give the 49ers a 16-7 lead with just over three minutes remaining in the half.

The 49ers dominated the stat sheet in the first half, outgaining the Cowboys 203-110 while holding a time of possession edge of 19:16 to 10:44. Garoppolo finished with 133 yards on 11 of 14 passing in the first half, while Prescott completed nine of 16 passes for 89 yards and one touchdown.

Second Half

The 49ers appeared to have held the Cowboys to a three-and-out to start the second half, but the Cowboys were given a new set of downs after linebacker Mark Nzeocha was flagged for roughing the kicker on the Cowboys' punt attempt. But the 49ers held firm later in the drive, forcing the Cowboys to punt at their own 45-yard line.

The 49ers punted back to the Cowboys after seven plays, then were able to put together a sequence of events that helped give them a 16-point lead. The Cowboys took over at their own 23 after the punt and moved to the 37-yard line after a 14-yard completion to tight end Dalton Schultz, but they quickly were pushed back to their own 19-yard line after a 10-yard illegal block penalty and a 13-yard loss on a sack by defensive tackle D.J. Jones. On a 2nd-and-28 play from the 19, Prescott was picked off by cornerback K'Waun Williams, giving the 49ers possession at the Cowboys' 26-yard line.

It took just one play from there for the 49ers to add their second touchdown of the game to take a 23-7 lead. The 49ers went to a handoff to Samuel after the interception, and Samuel took care of business from there, running into traffic before bouncing back through a hole to make his way to the end zone.

The teams exchanged punts after the touchdown, then the Cowboys put together an 11-play, 37-yard drive that finished with a Greg Zuerlein field goal to trim the 49ers' lead to 23-10. A fake punt on a 4th-and-5 near midfield put the Cowboys in 49ers territory, but the Cowboys elected not to go for a first down when facing a 4th-and-7 at the 49ers' 33, choosing instead to go for the field goal with just under 12 minutes remaining in the game.

Momentum was still in the 49ers' favor after the field goal, but that changed in an instant on the next possession. The 49ers faced a 2nd-and-10 at their own 44 with just under 10 minutes on the clock when Garoppolo sailed a pass into the hands of cornerback Anthony Brown, who returned the ball to the 28-yard line. Five plays later, Prescott ran for a touchdown from five yards out to bring the Cowboys back to within a touchdown at 23-17.

The 49ers took possession at their own 18-yard like with 7:57 remaining in the game and went through a penalty-filled nine-play possession that took 5:11 off the clock before they punted back to the Cowboys. The teams combined for five penalties during the possession, one of which gave the 49ers a first down on a 3rd-and-12, but they fell one yard short on a 3rd-and-5 from their own 47-yard line and punted the ball with 2:51 left to play.

The Cowboys began the next possession at their own 16-yard line and quickly moved across midfield after Prescott connected on a 38-yard completion to Schultz. But the 49ers stiffened on defense, forcing a 4th-and-11 from the 47 which resulted in an incomplete pass and a turnover on downs after the 49ers sent a blitz at Prescott.

1:42 remained on the clock when the 49ers took over at their own 47. Then, after a one-yard run by Mitchell on first down, the 49ers were gifted another first down when the Cowboys were flagged for defensive holding. The 49ers ran three plays from there, one of which was a 9-yard run by Samuel to set up a 4th-and-Inches at the Cowboys' 38. The 49ers went for a first down that would have been converted on a sneak by Garoppolo, but they were forced to punt after left tackle Trent Williams was penalized for a false start.

The Cowboys took over at their own 20-yard line with 39 seconds left to play. They advanced to the 40-yard line on a catch by Wilson and a lateral to wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, then moved to midfield on a 10-yard pass to running back Tony Pollard with 18 seconds to play. The Cowboys picked up another nine yards on a completion to Schultz, then the game came to an unusual end when Prescott rushed up the middle for a 17-yard gain but not enough time remained for the officials to get set in time for Prescott to stop the clock.

The 49ers wound up outgaining the Cowboys 341 to 307, which included a 169-77 edge on the ground. Mitchell finished with 27 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown, while Samuel chipped in 10 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown along with three catches for 38 yards. Elliott had 12 carries for 31 yards for the Cowboys, while Schultz led all pass catchers with seven catches for 89 yards.

The 49ers advance to the Divisional Playoff round with the win and will face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field next week (time/TV TBA). The Packers were on a bye during the Wild Card round due to having the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC playoffs. The 49ers and Packers played at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California on September 26, with the Packers coming away with a 30-28 victory.

SF Team Stats DAL
341 Total Yards 307
172 Passing Yards 230
169 Rushing Yards 77
6.9 Avg Yards per Pass 6.1
4.4 Avg Yards per Run 3.7
0 Fumbles Lost 0
1 Int Thrown 1
0 Sacks Allowed 5
33:57 Time of Pos 26:03
9 Penalties 14

49ers Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
Jimmy Garoppolo 16/25 172 0 1
Rushing Att Yds Avg TDs
Elijah Mitchell 27 96 3.6 1
Deebo Samuel 10 72 7.2 1
Jimmy Garoppolo 1 1 1 0
Receiving Rec Tgt Yds TDs
Brandon Aiyuk 5 6 66 0
Deebo Samuel 3 3 38 0
Jauan Jennings 3 5 29 0
George Kittle 1 3 18 0
Travis Benjamin 1 1 17 0
Kyle Juszczyk 2 3 15 0
Trent Sherfield 0 2 0 0
Elijah Mitchell 1 2 -11 0
Kicking FG Att Lg XP
Robbie Gould 3 3 53 2
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
Mitch Wishnowsky 4 44.8 1 48
Kickoff Returns Yds Avg TDs Lg
JaMycal Hasty 29 14.5 0 16
Punt Returns Att Avg TDs Lg
Travis Benjamin 1 11 0 11
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
Dre Greenlaw 3-2 0 0 0
Azeez Al-Shaair 3-2 0 0 0
Jimmie Ward 3-0 0 0 0
Ambry Thomas 3-0 0 0 0
Fred Warner 2-3 0 0 0
Jaquiski Tartt 2-0 0 0 0
Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles 2-0 0 0 0
K'Waun Williams 2-0 0 1 0
Emmanuel Moseley 10-2 0 0 0
Kevin Givens 1-3 0.5 0 0
Arik Armstead 1-3 1 0 0
Nick Bosa 1-2 0.5 0 0
Charles Omenihu 1-2 1.5 0 1
Samson Ebukam 1-1 0.5 0 0
Kentavius Street 1-0 0 0 0
Trent Sherfield 1-0 0 0 0
Josh Norman 1-0 0 0 0
Arden Key 1-0 0 0 0
Daniel Brunskill 1-0 0 0 0
D.J. Jones 1-0 1 0 0

Cowboys Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
Dak Prescott 23/43 254 1 1
Bryan Anger 1/1 16 0 0
Rushing Att Yds Avg TDs
Ezekiel Elliott 12 31 2.6 0
Dak Prescott 4 27 6.8 1
Tony Pollard 4 14 3.5 0
CeeDee Lamb 1 5 5 0
Receiving Rec Tgt Yds TDs
Dalton Schultz 7 8 89 0
Amari Cooper 6 10 64 1
Ced Wilson 5 10 62 0
CeeDee Lamb 1 5 21 0
C.J. Goodwin 1 1 16 0
Tony Pollard 2 2 12 0
Malik Turner 1 1 6 0
Blake Jarwin 0 1 0 0
Ezekiel Elliott 1 4 0 0
Fumbles Fum Lost
Ced Wilson 1 0
Dak Prescott 1 0
Kicking FG Att Lg XP
Greg Zuerlein 1 1 51 2
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
Bryan Anger 5 53.6 3 59
Kickoff Returns Yds Avg TDs Lg
Tony Pollard 50 25 0 32
Punt Returns Att Avg TDs Lg
CeeDee Lamb 1 5 0 5
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
Leighton Vander Esch 5-8 0 0 0
Anthony Brown 5-0 0 1 0
Trevon Diggs 4-0 0 0 0
Micah Parsons 3-7 0 0 0
Damontae Kazee 3-5 0 0 0
Jayron Kearse 3-4 0 0 0
Osa Odighizuwa 3-2 0 0 0
Dorance Armstrong 3-1 0 0 0
Donovan Wilson 2-4 0 0 0
DeMarcus Lawrence 2-2 0 0 0
Randy Gregory 1-3 0 0 0
Neville Gallimore 1-2 0 0 0
Jourdan Lewis 1-1 0 0 0
Ced Wilson 1-0 0 0 0
C.J. Goodwin 1-0 0 0 0
Luke Gifford 1-0 0 0 0

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