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Why Kyle Shanahan sees Cowboys as a big challenge for 49ers

Oct 2, 2023 at 3:38 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers are preparing for their toughest challenge yet of the 2023 season. They will host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night at Levi's Stadium. Owning a 4-0 record, the 49ers are one of two undefeated teams remaining in the NFL. The Cowboys enter the Week 5 clash with a 3-1 record.

Kyle Shanahan spoke to reporters via a conference call on Monday, the day after the 49ers' 35-16 win over the Cardinals. After noting that the Cowboys would be a tough challenge, the head coach was asked why he believed that to be true.

"Just how their pass rush [is], how fast they play," Shanahan responded. "I mean, [defensive coordinator] Dan Quinn is as good as anyone at the D-line. Just in general, I think one of the biggest tests for every team in the NFL is how much better you get each game because the lack of practice and stuff that big people get in the season compared to what it takes to be ready. It's just not enough.

"And no one's ever there in Week 1, especially up front, run blocking, pass blocking. You need a lot more reps of that to get better as a unit. That's why it's so important that, in these games, the more games you can stay healthy and the more games you can play together, usually you get better throughout the year."

There will be a significant hype build-up leading to Sunday night's game. The 49ers have ousted the Cowboys in the playoffs during each of the last two seasons. Dallas would love to get that monkey off their back.

The fact that it is a primetime matchup between two NFC titans makes it more significant.

"I'm a fan of football also first, growing up and everything, and still now," Shanahan shared. "So anytime there's big matchups and stuff, especially for the night games, that's what's great for our league, and there's nothing more fun than being a part of it as a player or coach.

"These are kind of the games you live for, and you enjoy. But it's a whole week to get there; big preparation. It's still going to be the same type of game as always, just starts a little bit later. It's still just going to be as long, but I know people will be amped up.

"I love it when the rest of the league gets to watch you when it's on national TV. It's great for all the fans and stuff, but it's really cool that, usually, the players and coaches are home by the end of the day, and they get to see that game, too. I know that's what we enjoy the most."

Shanahan noted that the 49ers didn't get a head start on planning for the Cowboys last week. Some felt the 49ers coaches might have, given their Week 4 opponent, the Cardinals, had just come off a game against Dallas.

"You get to see a little crossover, so some of that goes, but you never prepare," Shanahan said. "I'm really never preparing the week before. It takes away from the week that you're at, and there's always time to get it done. Once we just finished up with our players with Arizona and once I'm done with you guys, it'll be 100 percent committed to that (Dallas) until that game's over."

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