49ers 19, Cowboys 12: 49ers Grind it Out Against Dallas

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49ers 19, Cowboys 12: San Francisco Grinds Out Their Path to the NFC Championship Game


I was sitting with my wife watching this game, and we both agreed that while it wasn’t a bad game, it wasn’t what we expected. With Deebo, CMC, Kittle, and Aiyuk going against Dak, Zeke, Pollard, CeeDee, and Schultz, I saw a shootout coming.

It most definitely wasn’t that. Instead, it was a grind-it-out, defensive battle. Fields goals and punts dominated the game, but it was still great.

San Francisco and Dallas both blew out their opponents in the Wild Card round with their high-powered offenses. Today was a battle of attrition, and the 49ers won that battle—credit to the Cowboys for playing a hell of a game.

This was a wake-up call for San Francisco, though. The 49ers looked like a machine last week against the Seahawks. However, Dallas made Brock Purdy and the 49ers look very uncomfortable tonight. Philadelphia and their top pass rush already have an angle for next week.

They might have made it out of this one, but it’s back to the drawing board for Shanahan and the 49ers. Philly presents a huge matchup problem for them, and Dallas, while their season ends, highlighted that path.

Key Moments

1. Cowboys Big Drive for the Lead

We’ve seen a bunch of long drives that resulted in touchdowns in these playoffs, and every one of them has been key drives.

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys had one in the second quarter down by three, and it was the most offense that we saw in the first half. Dallas’ 14-play, 79-yard drive ended in a four-yard touchdown pass to Dalton Schultz to give the Cowboys a lead over the 49ers.

2. Kittle Scramble Drill Catch

In a defensive battle like this, it usually only takes one play to turn the game on its heels. Purdy rolled left, looking for a red jersey in space on the scramble drill, and found Kittle. Kittle was surprised that the ball came his way, but he made an amazing catch.

Kittle’s 30-yard reception set the 49ers up for their first touchdown drive of the game. Christian McCaffrey punched it in from two yards out to put the 49ers on top.

3. Grindin’ It Out

After Dallas answered the 49ers touchdown with a field goal to make it a 16-12 game, the 49ers went to work on the clock.

A lot of what makes the 49ers great is Kyle Shanahan, and Shanahan knew that the clock was his enemy in this game at that point. With the clock being San Francisco’s biggest enemy, a 12-play, 64-yard drive that spanned 7:14 seconds and ended in a field goal and three more points was just what the doctor ordered.

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.