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Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

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49ers vs. Cowboys - Keys to Victory and Score Prediction

Matt Andruscavage
Dec 19, 2020 at 1:32 PM


For many, the 2020 49ers season is over. While San Francisco is not mathematically out of the playoff picture, at 5-8 the odds are slim. The injuries have been too much to overcome and the rest of the season just has an impossible feel to it.

While I'm no longer as confident in the 49ers' chances of making the playoffs as I was two weeks ago, there is a simple scenario in which a postseason berth is possible.


This is all somewhat possible IF the 49ers get healthy and play much better. None of this matters, however, if the 49ers are not able to defeat the 4-9 Cowboys.

On the injury front, as if we need to hear more about injuries, the 49ers will be starting Daniel Brunskill at center and Justin Skule at right guard. The left side of the offensive line has been relatively stable with Laken Tomlinson and Trent Williams playing well for most of the season. It's the rest of the line that has been the cause of many of the offensive line problems.

Deebo Samuel will miss the game. K'Waun Williams, Fred Warner, and Emmanuel Moseley are questionable. George Kittle has been ruled out. D.J. Jones and Raheem Mostert are back.

Here are the keys to winning this game for the 49ers:

Where and When: Sunday, December 20 at 10 AM PT at AT&T Stadium

1) NO MORE TURNOVERS!


Concerning quarterback Nick Mullens, "My biggest thing with Nick right now is not turning the ball over," Kyle Shanahan said. "I mean I know he missed him open throws last week which are very obvious to everybody, which stick out a ton. But he also made about nine good plays that I thought where we had nine drops. So I think that ends up being a little unfair to him, but he can throw the ball better there's no doubt about that and he needs to.

"But what I can't handle anymore are the turnovers. Where we're at in the league right now, where we've been out here these last five weeks with how much we've turned the ball over, it doesn't give you much of a chance to win. And so, first and foremost, we got to protect the ball better. And if we don't, regardless of how you're playing, then that's what will get me to pull the trigger."

If the 49ers are going to have a chance in this game, there can be no more turnovers. The offense simply isn't good enough to overcome them.

2) Run the ball


If there was a good week to run the ball, it's this week. Dallas is last in the NFL against the run, allowing 162.7 yards per game. Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson need to be able to take advantage of this, but it starts up front. If the offensive line can play well and get the ground game going, the play-action will open up for Mullens.


The San Francisco ground attack hasn't been able to win much on first or second down this season. If that changes against Dallas, the offense will have a good chance of being balanced.

The loss of Deebo Samuel lessens the number of options for the offense, but could open up opportunities for Brandon Aiyuk on the jet sweeps and end-arounds.

The bottom line is if the 49ers want to win this game, they must be successful on the ground.

3) Limit the impact of Ezekiel Elliot


The 49ers have been superb on defense overall all season, despite the injuries. Currently, San Francisco is ranked eighth against the run and face Dallas's 19th- ranked rushing attack.

If Dallas is one-dimensional, the defense should be able to force Andy Dalton into mistakes. Another factor working San Francisco's favor is Mike McCarthy is by nature one-dimensional. McCarthy will abandon the run quickly, especially if the 49ers build any kind of early lead.

Slowing down Elliot early will bode well for allowing the defense to tee off on Dalton.

Score Prediction


The 49ers have a good chance to win this game if the offensive line plays well and Nick Mullens does not turn over the ball. The defense should allow Mullens to simply be a game manager and grind out a win.

It won't be a super pretty game, but it should be better than last week. Mostert will have a good game and the defense will force Andy Dalton into a couple mistakes.

The 49ers will be mathematically alive for one more week.

49ers 24, Cowboys 13
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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