3 Keys For The San Francisco 49ers To Upset The Cowboys

NFL Analysis Network

The San Francisco 49ers had a miraculous comeback in Week 18 to help get them into the playoffs. After trailing 17-3 at halftime against the Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco woke up in the second half, eventually winning 27-24 in overtime. That was the first time in his head coaching career that Sean McVay lost a game in which he was leading at halftime.

If you ask the 49ers, it couldn’t have come at a better time, as that game vaulted them into a playoff spot. Now, instead of watching the postseason from home, they will be on the road taking on their old-school rivals in the Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas won the NFC East with a record of 12-5. Both teams are solid and should provide fans with a good game in arguably the best matchup of a loaded Wild Card weekend. The Cowboys have a slight edge as 3-point favorites in the game.

What will it take for the 49ers to pull off the upset? Let’s take a look at three keys to the game for San Francisco to leave AT&T Stadium with a victory.

3. Jimmy Garoppolo

There has been a lot of talk surrounding the future of Jimmy Garoppolo. The San Francisco 49ers used the No. 3 overall pick on quarterback Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft and it sounds like they want to hand the reins over to him.

Garoppolo could be playing elsewhere next season, but he will be looking to stave that off as long as possible. He is a key to the team picking up the upset win this weekend.

The 49ers’ offense isn’t an explosive one through the air, but if you give Garoppolo time in the pocket, he can pick apart an opposing defense. He has a plethora of weapons to get the ball to in do-it-all wide receiver Deebo Samuel, wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and tight end Geroge Kittle.

Garoppolo gutted things out last week against the Rams despite dealing with a Grade 3 thumb sprain on his throwing hand. He threw for 316 yards but did throw two interceptions and fumbled once, but it was recovered by the 49ers.

If the 49ers want to defeat the Cowboys, Garoppolo needs to play mistake-free football and not crumble under the pressure Dallas is assuredly going to bring.

2. Holding Up In Pass Coverage

There aren’t many teams in the NFL that have as explosive of a group of pass-catchers as the Dallas Cowboys. Even with Michael Gallup going down with a knee injury in Week 17, there is still plenty of firepower remaining.

CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper headline the wide receiver group, which has gotten great production from Cedrick Wilson when he has been needed as well. Dalton Shultz is a solid option at tight end, as Dak Prescott gets them all involved in a high octane offense.

San Francisco’s secondary is middle of the pack, so they can be exploited. If they want to pull off the upset victory, they need to receive a good performance from the defensive backfield.

Dallas will get their plays, just as every great offense does. But it will be up to Emmanuel Mosley, Josh Norman and K’Waun Williams to limit those big plays and keep a very good Cowboys passing offense in check.

1. Succeeding On The Ground

This is going to be a smash-mouth, hard-fought game between the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers would love to turn this into a throwback game that is won in the trenches and on the ground.

If the 49ers can find success with their running game, they will put themselves in a position to win the game. San Francisco has been at its best when they can wear a team down throughout the game and pounce on them late when they are too tired to provide resistance.

Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson Jr. and Deebo Samuel will be relied upon to set the tone in the ground game. Getting Trent Williams back would help in this area, as he is an All-World left tackle that will help keep Dallas out of their backfield.

Getting things going on the ground will not only help open things up in the passing game for Jimmy Garoppolo but keep the Cowboys’ offense off the field. If they can control the ball and limit possessions, that will be a huge win for the 49ers.

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