SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Two things were abundantly clear after this game.
The 49ers have gotten much better since defeating Dallas last January. And from the looks of things, the Cowboys have not.
Add those two together and you get exactly what we got Sunday night in San Francisco. The 49ers absolutely steamrolled the Cowboys in a rematch that wasn't really a match.
All week long, it looked as if the Cowboys were ready for the battle. They were mad about the way the last two seasons ended and seemed ready to change the narrative.
But apparently, over here in the Bay Area, the 49ers were just as motivated, if not way more. They brought the fight from the very start of this game, and the Cowboys had no answers at all.
Just go down the list of every aspect of this game and the 49ers were just better.
· To me, this started with an overall mindset. The 49ers just brought the fight. They were more physical. They created turnovers by punching the ball out. Now, let's not say the Cowboys weren't physical in their own right. Early in the game, the defense was the ONLY reason they were somewhat in the game. But as it wore on, it was the Cowboys limping off to the sideline, sometimes to the locker room. It was the 49ers creating the big hits. And when the Cowboys did deliver some big hits, they were flagged for a penalty – one that I think changed the entire game.
· Brock Purdy was magnificent, just as he's been since he took over as the starting quarterback. There's a reason he's 10-0 as a starter, as he made every throw he needed to. On the flip side, Dak Prescott wasn't close to his best at all. He missed a lot of throws, checked the ball down too early at times and just had the wrong reads, especially late in the game when throwing three second-half interceptions.
· The play-calling was another huge difference in this game. The 49ers were masterful in scheming players wide open, even when facing third-and-long situations. The Cowboys had problems all night getting players in the right spots, even in favorable down-and-distances.
· Weapons. That was a big reason the 49ers won this game back in January. And all summer long, that's what I pointed to, wondering if the Cowboys had finally added enough playmakers on offense to compete in a game like this. Well, they were still out-playmakered – if that's even a word. The 49ers have so many options on offense that it's a nightmare to cover them all. But the Cowboys just don't have that. CeeDee Lamb is a great player, but they needed more from him. Needed more from Cooks as well. And Tony Pollard was a non-factor in the running game.
· And let's not give the offensive line a pass here. This was the first game all year they had the starting five intact, but it didn't seem to matter a whole lot. The 49ers were able to get plenty of pressure on Dak, and they don't have to blitz all the time to create it.
· And here's one more thing – the 49ers had the best player on the field and it wasn't McCaffrey, Purdy, Kittle, Deebo, Bosa or Aiyuk. No way. The guy who seemingly dominated this game is the same guy who did it last year and the year before – Fred Warner. He was an absolute beast, making plays in the running game, forcing a fumble and getting an interception, too. The Cowboys think they have a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year in Micah Parsons but by far, Warner was the best on the field.
In every single way, the 49ers were better. And honestly, you don't need the score to be that lopsided to prove it.
If the Cowboys want to be a team that competes for anything this year, they're going to have to prove they can step up when it's time to fight.
But it's hard to have a game with more build-up than this one. And the Cowboys showed once again they aren't the on the 49ers' level. Time will tell if any team in the NFL can compete with the 49ers.
But on this night, the Cowboys were not a match.