San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys: Full Report-Card Grades for 49ers
The Cowboys smashed their way to victory behind their rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, as the 49ers couldn't find any answers with their No. 23-ranked rush defense.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert was inconsistent despite starting off hot in the first half, going 8-of-11 for 112 yards and one touchdown.
A tale of two halves, Gabbert's success stopped there as the second period was downright awful. From misfiring on a fly route to wide receiver Torrey Smith resulting in an interception from cornerback Morris Claiborne, to hitting his receivers short of the first-down markers, Gabbert did little in the second half to rally his team back into the game.
Simply put, 196 passing yards isn't going to get the job done.
RB Carlos Hyde was the offensive key to winning the game. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough, as Hyde finished with a modest 74 yards on only 15 carries. And while the Ohio State product did reach the end zone for the second-consecutive week, it just wasn't enough as the 49ers fell short.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
The 49ers have yet to have a receiver top 100 yards this season. You can blame it on Gabbert all you want, but these receivers need to get proper separation. Simply put, they don't have a big-body receiver with the catching radius of Eric Rogers, and it's starting to show. WR Jeremy Kerley continues to be Gabbert's security blanket and lone bright spot, as he recorded six catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.
The team's second-leading receiver? How about TE Garrett Celek who put together a nice game, hauling in five catches for 79 yards.
Second-year right tackle Trent Brown recorded his first offensive penalty while allowing his first sack of the 2016 season. Despite that setback he had yet another solid game, as he held down the fort on the right side.
As a unit, the 49ers offensive line continues to play well collectively in both the run and pass game. The left side played well and center Daniel Kilgore continues to be the rock in the middle. Unfortunately, the team needs to sustain drives and move the chains more often, and that's directly correlated to the line play.
The 49ers defensive line provided little in the pass-rush department, which in turn allowed Prescott to throw two first-half touchdowns while passing for 133 yards. Sure, the team recorded two first-half sacks, but they were coverage sacks not pressure sacks.
To make matters worse, Cowboys rookie RB Elliott rushed for 42 yards in the first half on only eight carries. That's a whopping 5.3 yards-per-carry average, which is not good enough. The Cowboys used that as their recipe for success in the second half, as Elliott topped the century mark by rushing 23 times for 138 yards and a touchdown.
NaVorro Bowman recorded eight tackles (including a sack). A player who continues to win his battles running sideline-to-sideline, Bowman once again set the tone for the 49ers defense before leaving the game with a lower leg injury.
There's not much else to report from this unit other than ILB Michael Wilhoite having a solid game, finishing as the team's leading tackler with 12.
CB Tramaine Brock was beaten on numerous occasions while giving up easy touchdowns in the process. A 20-yard back-shoulder touchdown by WR Terrance Williams kicked off his poor outing.
Rashard Robinson held his own and is looking the part of a true No. 2 starting cornerback. A player I said to watch for in my preview on NinerFans.com, the player known as Shad had himself a nice game finishing with five tackles and three pass break ups.
However, this is a team sport and allowing 245 receiving yards in the air is not acceptable.
Bradley Pinion punted four times for 196 yards, but a crucial 26-yard shank left the team out to dry in a battle of field position.
Combine that with a spotty 49ers coverage unit whiffing on downfield tackles and the grade doesn't look promising for this special teams unit.
The 49ers weren't outcoached. The coaches coach and players play. It's clear the 49ers coaching staff doesn't have the horses (players) to stay stride for stride with offenses on the defensive side of the ball. The loss of Bowman is living proof of that as the defense didn't look the same after he left the game.