SANTA CLARA—The San Francisco 49ers welcomed their favorite foe, the Dallas Cowboys to kick off the NFL pre-season on Thursday, August 9 at the gorgeous Levi’s Stadium. Although the Boys struck first, the 49ers rallied from eleven points in the closing minutes, scoring the game winning TD with only 18 seconds remaining in the game, earning a 24-21 victory.
On the opening drive, Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott looked sharp in limited action. Going 3 for 3 including a 30 yard touchdown strike to rookie wideout, Michael Gallup. The Cowboys lost Tight-End Jason Witten, who retired as well as Wide Receiver Dez Bryant, released this off-season, leaving fans and pundits to wonder who will become Dak’s guy.
Prescott is entering his third season, and his support of standing during the National Anthem has angered some fans and players. An artist from Dallas named Trey Wilder painted a giant mural depicting the Cowboys QB, a tear streaming down his eye, with the words, “Get Out.” This is the ugly side of when sports and politics collide, the media assumes every single player ought to have an opinion on every social issue. Football, and sports in general, must remember these games are an opportunity to escape the conflict and divisive nature encompassing Washington D.C.
The 49ers first possession proved Head Coach Kyle Shanahan has plenty of work to do. The 49ers gave Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo a huge contract earlier this year. In his only possession, he was 3 for 6 for 34 yards. His best moment was a third down pass to Wide Receiver Marquise Goodwin as the Cowboys defensive line was right about to smother Garoppolo in the turf. Dallas Cowboy Linebacker Jayon Brown was sensational, his lateral speed should restore the D, which was plain awful in 2017. Next week, the 49ers will visit the Houston Texans, where Garoppolo will play a majority of the first half.
Pre-season means nothing, try telling that to the five fallen 49ers who went down early with injuries Thursday night. Tight end George Kittle hits the turf, then has a Cowboys defender land on top of him. He left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return. Others to leave Thursday night included defensive end Solomon Thomas (concussion symptoms), offensive tackle Garry Gilliam (concussion symptoms), linebacker Eli Harold (lower leg), running back Matt Breida (shoulder), and linebacker Malcolm Smith (hamstring).
After the game, head coach Kyle Shanahan said he didn’t know for sure the extent of every injury, but said of Kittle and Breida, “I have a feeling it could be some time. I’d be surprised if they were around next week. But I didn’t get anything official there, I just know that from the game.”
SF 49ers Kicker Robbie Gould trimmed the lead, 14-10 in the third quarter, the Cowboys quickly answered with a 73-yard drive. Culminating with a two yard TD pass, extending the lead to 21-10.
The 49ers refused to surrender. Remember for a second, these men are fighting for a spot on the 53 man roster, and frankly, most of them won’t make the team unfortunately. For these third stringers, this is their one shining moment, their Super Bowl if you will, to impress the coaching staff.
Case in point, 49ers backup Nick Mullens pulled a Joe Montana comeback out of his hat the final two minutes, scoring two touchdowns, the game winning 1 yard TD pass to Richie James sealed the deal with just with only 18 seconds left. The fans were losing their minds, pace yourself guys and gals, it’s only August. Anytime the 49ers defeat the Cowboys, it’s a big deal.