Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Observations of the 49ers Wild Card Win, Invasion of Dallas, and overcoming Jimmy Garoppolo

Chris Beno
Jan 17, 2022 at 9:00 AM--

The 49ers pulled off the upset against their long-time rival Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round of the playoffs on Sunday. Here's some observations from their 23-17 victory on the road.

The Invasion of Dallas

The 49ers Faithful showed up big time on the road this weekend. The Cowboys ran their "White Out" promotion for the game, where they encouraged all of their fans wear white in hopes to hide the red 49ers fans. I'm no expert, but one would assume it would make the red stand out more, which it did.

The nights prior to the game, the restaurants and bars in the Arlington area were flooded with 49ers Faithful.

When the game started it was clear just how many 49ers fans made the trip. In the lower section behind the Cowboys bench was virtually all white. However, the rest of the sections was a blend of both red and white, but mainly white.

Special Teams

Just like they had been doing for much of the season, the 49ers special teams unit continues to be a cause for concern. The 49ers had the Cowboys on their heels at the start of the second half after holding the Cowboys to a three and out. However, 49ers linebacker Mark Nzeocha got flagged for roughing the kicker deep in the Cowboys territory.

Although the 49ers eventually forced a punt on that drive, a quick three and out to start the half and the potential for good field position would've been a crushing momentum swing towards the 49ers who were already dominating the game.

The Cowboys also faked a punt in the fourth quarter when they were trailing 23-7. Cornerback Josh Norman was in coverage on the play and was completely caught off guard. The Cowboys would eventually settle for a field goal on that drive.

The 49ers also gave up a few big returns on special teams which ultimately kept the Cowboys on life support.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Just like we have seen numerous times this season, Garoppolo didn't lose the game, nor did he win it. Like in 2019, the game plan is the same—run the ball to control the clock and ultimately the game, force turnovers, and limit the number of throws.

That game plan was in full effect against the Cowboys who had no answer early on against the run. Garoppolo did make a few nice tight window throws, but his mistakes changed the momentum of the entire game.

Cowboy's fans were leaving early in the fourth quarter as they were ready to throw in the towel. However, Garoppolo's interception that quarter shifted all momentum their way. The stadium was loud for the rest of the game.

The Cowboy's marched downfield and scored off of that interception. Earlier in the game Garoppolo missed a wide-open Brandon Aiyuk for what could've been a touchdown. Off hand I can think of three other passes that could've been intercepted.

Late in the fourth quarter, the 49ers only needed a few inches to ice the game on fourth down. Garoppolo snapped the ball before Trent Williams was set on the line and got a false start penalty forcing the 49ers to punt.

The Cowboys were given a shot at marching downfield to win the game. Everyone remembers what happens when good quarterbacks are given extra opportunities right? Aaron Rodgers in Week 3?

Garoppolo finished the game 16 of 25 for 172 yards, zero scores and one interception. In Garoppolo's last three starts, he has thrown two touchdowns and five interceptions for an average passer rating of 80.9.

I'm not entirely sure if that is a formula that is sustainable to make it further into the playoffs, especially facing the level of quarterbacks remaining in the NFC. At some point Garoppolo will be asked to make some plays with his arm. Let's just hope it's not to get out of a hole he put the team in.

Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel

Mitchell and Samuel are good. I mean, really good. That bodes well for a 49ers team who runs the ball well, tries to hide the flaws of their injured quarterback and is about to travel to Green Bay this weekend to play in a frozen tundra.

Against the Cowboys, Mitchell ran for 96 yards on 27 carries and a score, while wide receiver Deebo Samuel rushed for 72 yards on 10 carries and a score. The two players complement each other very well in the run game.

Expect them to get the bulk of the attention from defenders who will continue to sell out to stop the run. It's obvious what the 49ers plan to do week in and week out, yet opposing defenses still struggle to stop it.

49ers Defense

The 49ers defense held the Cowboys to only 77 yards rushing on Sunday. Going into the game the Cowboys were 1-5 when they rushed for less than 100 yards. Make that 1-6. Stopping the run was a huge focal point this week for the 49ers and they delivered.

The 49ers pass rush also delivered, registering five total sacks. When Nick Bosa went out with a concussion just before half time, it felt as if the pass rush would struggle. Bosa regularly gets double and even triple teamed on passing plays allowing opportunities for other guys to get pressure.

The pass rush still made noise the rest of the game.

The 49ers safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt didn't give up any big plays against the NFL's most potent offense, which is huge. Cornerback K'waun Williams did give up a touchdown, but made up for it by picking off Dak Prescott deep in the Cowboys territory, which led to a Deebo Samuel touchdown.

The defense has been one of the brightest spots on this 49ers team. It's not an easy unit to score on and the secondary has been sneaky good all season. They face a big task next week against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers who are the number one seed in the NFC and will be coming off of the bye.

The win over Dallas wasn't pretty, and in all honesty shouldn't have been as close as it was. Between special teams and quarterback blunders, the team still managed to eke out a win. Overcoming mistakes is not a sustainable formula in the playoffs when the stakes are higher, and the competition is tougher.

This team is built to win, limiting mistakes and turnovers will be the biggest key moving forward.
  • Chris Beno
  • Written by:
    Coming from Elk Grove, California I grew up a Bay Area sports fan. I've been cheering for the 49ers for as long as I can remember. In 2005 I joined the Army when I was 18 and got stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. I just kind of hung around here. I've always enjoyed writing and have typically focused on writing music. I am truly blessed to get to cover the 49ers, and have my articles published on the 49ers Webzone. I didn't realize it was something I wanted to pursue as a career, but am now focused on doing just that. I appreciate all of the Faithful that take the time to read the articles people put out there.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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