Eye on the enemy: Scouting San Francisco

Welcome back, everyone. You know what I'm excited about? Two things, really. First, last year's defense was the worst I've ever seen in my life, but it's probably worse this year, so that should be fun. Second, we can now say definitively that all of those coaches who were replaced in the offseason actually…weren't replaced. They're all still there. Which is fascinating.

But we're not here to talk about that; we're here to talk about the game. This weekend, the Dallas Cowboys face off against the San Francisco 49ers, at 3:25 p.m. Central time. I've thought about a lot of different ways I could start off with the good news, so here goes.

Among the teams that are considerably better than the Cowboys, the 49ers may come closest to the profile of one it's possible they'll beat. This is because the 49ers are horrible at passing. I understand that Kaepernick is a dynamic player who changes the game, but it's pretty hard to believe that if you put him on Oakland, instead of behind an amazing defense, he wouldn't have gotten a nine-billion-dollar extension. The 49ers ranked 30th in passing last year, and it could have been worse. Kaep started it off with a 412-yard, three-TD effort against Green Bay. In the whole rest of the season he broke 200 passing yards…five times.

It's also true, as a friend of mine pointed out to me, that they're missing a lot of good players right now. Navarro Bowman and Aldon Smith are out, and as many good young teams, they lost some core players in free agency. They tend to score a lot of defensive points, but though Romo makes high profile mistakes he doesn't make nearly as many as people seem to think. He threw just 10 INTs last year, as few as Peyton Manning, fewer than Rivers or Brees and a lot fewer than Stafford or Ryan.

So the Cowboys can win this. If they can break through the fearsome 49ers D just a few times and hold on to the ball, it's possible it could be enough. But…

There's no evidence that the Boys will have any answer to the 49ers running game, which was pretty ferocious last year. We actually don't know anything about Tony Romo right now except that he's almost certainly rusty, and he didn't play much in the preseason. I'm excited about the Cowboys' O-Line and a healthy DeMarco Murray is a dominant DeMarco Murray, but people don't run against the 49ers.

And man do I not know who's going to spy Kaepernick.

All things considered, a win here would be a pretty nice surprise. It's right on the edge of possible, but it's not the most likely thing in the world.


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