49ers report card: Credit all for historic destruction of Cowboys

SANTA CLARA – Here is how the 49ers (5-0) graded in Sunday night’s 42-10 home win over the Dallas Cowboys (3-2):


Brock Purdy (four touchdown passes) and George Kittle (three touchdown catches) set career highs, and their most picturesque connection came on a play called: “Toss 18 Flea Flick.” That football touched the hands of Purdy, Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel, then went back to Purdy, who didn’t flinch at an incoming defender and launched a pass from midfield to Kittle for a 38-yard touchdown reception and a 14-0 lead. That play was installed midway through last season (before Purdy ascended to the QB throne), and although it was called amid the carnage of the NFC Championship Game for McCaffrey (after Purdy’s injury), it wasn’t fully executed until this game, after they practiced it Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Kittle commended Purdy for how well prepared he is with the 100 passes and 50 runs they must sift through each week, adding: “Brock’s pocket awareness, being able to move and keep his feet in position to make all those throws, he’s a robot. He’s just very special.” As for Kittle’s hat trick, Nick Bosa said: “George finally got his big night that he deserved, which was coming.” Mix in some screens to McCaffrey, some dimes to Brandon Aiyuk, and even a touchdown pass to Kyle Juszyzk and this passing efficiency is at a level not seen in decades.


The Cowboys invited the 49ers to beat them through the air, and Shanahan had to restrain himself from calling too many passes, thus the run game was used to keep Dallas’ defense somewhat honest. Christian McCaffrey owns the outright franchise record by scoring in 14 consecutive games (playoffs included). His 1-yard touchdown plunge highlighted a bruising affair for him (19 carries, 51 yards). He continues to lead NFL rushers in yards (510), carries (99) and touchdowns (seven; tied with Miami’s Raheem Mostert). The second-half blowout allowed McCaffrey to rest for the fourth quarter while Jordan Mason (10 carries, 69 yards; 26-yard touchdown) and Ty Davis-Price (six carries, 21 yards) got in the mix. The biggest concern offensively is whether left guard Aaron Banks will miss extended time with a biceps injury, which forced him out in the third quarter and put in Jon Feliciano.


Fred Warner, Tashaun Gipson Sr. and Oren Burks intercepted Dak Prescott on three consecutive series in the second half to clinch the 49ers’ most lopsided win ever over Dallas. The pass rush, even without Friday’s trade acquisition Randy Gregory, came out of the blocks hot to pester Prescott into three sacks by halftime. Bosa and Armstead combined for the first sack, Warner followed with the second, Greenlaw had the third, and Kevin Givens had one on Cooper Rush in the closing minutes. Prescott posted a season-low 51.6 rating (14-of-24, 153 yards) and his touchdown pass floated over Isaiah Oliver at nickel back, a position that seems this team’s weakest. Bosa had four hits on Prescott, Armstead two.


As stellar as they were in pass coverage, Warner and Greenlaw are also the maestros of the 49ers’ run defense. “Best in the business. That’s the engine of the defense,” Trent Williams said. “The way those guys fly around, it frees up the defense front.” Dallas’ Tony Pollard ran for a season-low 29 yards (eight carries), and the Cowboys averaged 3 yards per carry (57 yards, 19 carries). One run stop that shouldn’t be overlooked was Javon Hargrave’s third-down tackle for a 1-yard loss, forcing Dallas to settle for a field goal that cut the 49ers lead to 21-10 three minutes after halftime. Other TFLs came from Greenlaw (two), Bosa, Warner, and Givens, who also recovered a fumble Warner forced along the sideline.



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