SANTA CLARA, Calif. – While the Cowboys had some early success Thursday night and looked to be in control for the majority of their preseason opener with the 49ers, a couple of late touchdowns by San Francisco ended the night on a sour note.
The 49ers edged Dallas 24-21, but like all preseason games, the final score isn't the biggest story, behind the individual performers and the injuries that might occur.
This spot is usually saved for the five plays that changed the game. But in the preseason, let's focus on five other players and/or aspects of the game.
So this preseason version will include players, stats and sometimes plays that get overlooked.
Jarwin Gains Ground? – The tight end position will most likely be a topic of discussion all preseason long as this team tries to replace future Hall of Famer Jason Witten. Geoff Swaim got the start and had some nice blocks on the outside in the running game, but it was Blake Jarwin who actually caught Dak's first pass of the game. And he later had an 18-yard pass on a screen that nearly ended up as a touchdown. Even without Witten, the Cowboys continue to use 12 and 13 personnel, which will put two and three tight ends on the field. If we're keeping score on the entire position, score one for Jarwin in the first preseason game.
Kicking Issues? – The Cowboys did put Dan Bailey on the field very early Thursday night, as he was one of the captains for the game. However, the veteran place-kicker didn't get any attempts after that, including the first extra point try following the Cowboys' opening touchdown drive of the game. Brett Maher handled all of the duties, along with kickoffs and some punting. Maher missed a 52-yard attempt in the fourth quarter that could've likely changed the outcome. Bailey has been pretty good at practices in Oxnard, aside from a couple of misses at the end of team periods. Last year, Bailey wasn't the same kicker when he returned from a groin injury and missed five field goals, although four were beyond 50 yards, but two extra points in the final five games.
Austin North? – We know what kind of player Tavon Austin is going to be from sideline to sideline. Austin will be a factor on jet sweeps and reverses. But if the Cowboys can get some plays out of him down the field, he can be even more effective. Thursday night, Austin had two catches down the field, something that was rather inconsistent in his time with the Rams. While catching a 12-yard pass and another 13-yard gain don't seem to be much, those are still deep enough to respect his lateral speed game.
No Sacks – The Cowboys were able to get steady pressure on the 49ers quarterbacks, especially in the first half. But getting there, and getting home are two different things. And the Cowboys were held without a sack Thursday night on the 49ers' 39 passing attempts. That doesn't mean the quarterback wasn't hit, as linebacker Justin March-Lillard and DeMarcus Lawrence each got clean shots on the quarterbacks. But from the sack column, it was empty.
Flag Football – Yes, it's early in the preseason, but the Cowboys lost the game because they doubled the penalty count of the 49ers, who were flagged only six times. But the 13 penalties against Dallas were rather costly, including a pass interference penalty on rookie cornerback Donovan Olumba in the final seconds that led to the 49ers' game-winning score.