SANTA CLARA, Calif. – My first trip to Levi's Stadium was a forgettable one, as far as the gameplay was concerned. But, as always, there's plenty we can learn from watching this team play.
I'll have a more in-depth feel for this loss to San Francisco on Monday, but here are my top 12 impressions from the radio booth:
1. I have to give the 49ers secondary a great deal of credit in the way they shut down these Cowboys receivers. It didn't matter if it was Terrance Williams or David Porter, there was not much room on the outside to operate. The windows were extremely tight and that was a problem for these Cowboys quarterbacks all night.
2.The film will show that Davon Coleman played very well at the point of attack from the nose tackle position. He was able to fight off blockers and was difficult to handle, whether the 49ers were trying to run the ball or pass. His lower body power and quickness were outstanding as he continues to make a push to be a serious piece of this rotation.
3. Joseph Randle was better in his opportunities to carry the ball than Darren McFadden was. I thought Randle showed balance on a couple of his carries -- which I had not seen that before. If there was a disappointing play for him, it was the holding call where he tackled the blitzer, wiping out a 3rd-down conversion for the offense. His technique was awful and it was an easy call for the official to make.
4. Coaches will be pleased in what they got from Ben Gardner in this game. I said on our radio broadcast that I thought it was the best week of practice for Gardner since we arrived for camp. Gardner was able to build on that week by putting himself in nice position throughout the game, but more importantly, finishing when he had the chance.
5. Geoff Swaim continues to make a push for a spot on this roster. I am not sure how this squad is going to carry four tight ends unless they go light in another position, but it is becoming hard to move on without him. I am still not really sure how good of a run blocker he is.
6. It was difficult to watch Dustin Vaughan play in this game. The success that he was able to have in that San Diego game must now feel like light years ago. It appeared that his two interceptions in this game affected him in a negative way. Instead of coming out and firing like he did in the Chargers game, he was tentative and cautious. He locked onto the receivers and his accuracy was all over the place. Instead of building on a good game, he took a step back.
7.This Cowboys defense was put in some bad situations field position-wise, and for them not to give up a touchdown says a lot about the talent and depth they have on this squad to keep the 49ers out of the end zone.
8.It was homecoming for Keith Smith, and with the way he played, he had to make all the folks in the stands proud. Smith went to college just down the road at San Jose State, and he was all over the field from his linebacker spot. There were several snaps where he just read the play on a run through and was able to make the tackle. He played well in space and -- when he was asked to blitz -- provided some nice pressure.
9. I like what I am seeing from Randy Gregory as a pass rusher, but he is going to need to learn when playing the run that he has to be careful of getting up the field too quickly and allowing a crease to develop to his inside. There were a couple of snaps where this happened to him and the 49ers took advantage of it.
10. From my spot in the radio booth, it appeared that some of the breakdowns in punt coverage were due to missed tackles in space. I am looking forward to seeing if this is in fact the case.
11. Jameill Showers had three tackles in the game -- two on special teams and one on the failed two point play. That has to be a first for a quarterback in Cowboys history.
12. I only saw one time where it appeared that La'el Collins was out of position on a pass set. He was late on the twist adjust, which resulted in a sack, but overall I thought he played more consistently overall than he did against the Chargers.