Poor Second Half Once Again the Downfall for 49ers

By: Joe Lami

SANTA CLARA, Calif.– Make it three straight losses for the San Francisco 49ers, as they fell to the Dallas Cowboys 24-17, dropping their record to 1-3.

Things started well for San Francisco once again at Levi’s, as they went up on Dallas 14-0 at one point in the first half. San Francisco’s first score came on a beautiful 33-yard pass from Blaine Gabbert to Jeremy Kerley. Kerley went uncovered by the Dallas secondary, as Gabbert was able to pick up the read quickly for the strike to Kerley, who had plenty of open space to find paydirt.

San Francisco doubled their lead in the second quarter on a three-yard run by Carlos Hyde, who jumped out the right, getting the edge on the way to the end zone. Hyde finished the day with 74 yards on the ground off of 15 attempts. Gabbert ran 12 times, totalling 27 yards. He mentioned during the post-game conference that it was Dallas defense that led to more carries on the read-option.

Gabbert finished his day with a 91.9 QBR, completing 16 of 23 passes for 196 yards and one interception.

Although San Francisco had a great start, it took the Cowboys a quarter to get going, but once they did their offense was hard to stop.

The end of the first half was crucial for Dallas, as it helped them get back into the game. It all started with a questionable unnecessary roughness penalty against Jaquiski Tartt, who came hit quarterback Dak Prescott a little bit after the whistle. When asked about the penalty, Tartt mentioned after the game that he never heard the play be called dead. The Cowboys first score came with under 3-minutes to go in the half, where Prescott found Terrance Williams for a 20-yard touchdown connection. Kelly commented on the penalty, “we talk about this all the time, penalties that keep drives alive are things that hurt you. I didn’t see it. They said they blew a whistle, I didn’t hear a whistle on the field. I don’t think anybody heard a whistle, but if they called it, then it happened”.

San Francisco then had a quick three-and-out, giving Dallas 1:50 of time to work with. The rookie quarterback torched the Niners defense, putting together an 11-play touchdown drive to finish the half. His main target was Jason Witten, who he targeted five times on the drive. Brice Butler finished it with a four-yard catch.

The San Francisco Offense completely shutdown in the second half, scoring only on a 36-yard Phil Dawson field goal. Ezekiel Elliot ran one in from a yard out for Dallas’ only second-half touchdown, but their production was enough in the seven-point victory. Elliot finished his field day with 138 yards on 23 carries.

Injury was added to insult, as many different 49ers’ defenders went down with injuries. The two most notable were DeForrest Bucker and NaVarro Bowman. Buckner was seen in the 49ers’ locker room after the loss with a boot on his left foot. He denied talking to the media, saying only that he needed to go see the doctor.

Bowman’s injury occurred without any contact in the third quarter. The pro-bowl middle linebacker went down, immediately grabbing the back of his left leg. He was later carted off back to the dressing room and ruled out for the rest of the game.

Tackle, Joe Staley commented on the loss of the defensive captain, “it stinks, he’s one of our team leaders. We’re going to have to have a guy step up. That’s a huge role to fill. You can’t really replace a guy like NaVorro, but we have to have guys step up and be ready to go.”

San Francisco doesn’t have too much time to dwell upon this loss. They have a short week and will be hosting the struggling 1-3 Arizona Cardinals, who may be without their starting quarterback Carson Palmer who suffered a concussion in a loss to the Rams on Sunday.